By Kalani E. Gaines
FRESNO – Daniel Ray Garza Jr. has been awaiting a settlement in his DUI case for the past three years. It was a wait worth having after a judge here in Fresno County Superior Court last week agreed with a “Serna” motion—which tossed out his case because he didn’t receive a speedy trial
In November of 2016, Garza was driving under the influence and contributed to a car accident that sent him to the hospital. Garza was released from the hospital, neither being cited nor arrested for the crime.
Although the arrest warrant and bench warrant for this case was issued back in May of 2017, Garza was not arraigned until January of this year, three years after the complaint.
According to Assistant Public Defender Anthony Burse, Garza was not aware that he would have to go to court, even after inquiring with a friend of his who is a police officer. The officer had told Garza that he had no warrants.
Garza did have a warrant for a blood draw; however, the blood evidence is now destroyed. Burse noted that, because of this, it brings a presumption of prejudice to the case, stating, “If we were to go to trial we could not test that blood to see if that blood alcohol content is what it says it is.”
Deputy District Attorney Carly Bruce argued against granting the Serna motion.
“The blood results are destroyed due to policy,” Bruce noted, adding, “It’s the defendant’s own delay proceeding with this case that he was well aware of which caused the blood to age.”
Bruce indicated in her argument that this is Garza’s fourth DUI arrest. She also referred to police reports that stated Garza was uncooperative, and refused to provide a blood or breath sample, which resulted in the blood warrant.
Burse disagreed that the length of Garza’s case is his own fault.
Within the past few years while this case was pending, Burse mentioned that Garza had been able to obtain a barber license and still had no notifications of any warrants, noting, “He did get a license through the state of California and those background checks, I assume, would be very thorough, as we had to go through a background check through the state of California in order to get our bar license.”
Judge Monica Diaz reviewed both sides and noted that the arraignment in January did not occur until Garza put himself on the calendar after finally learning about the warrants.
“There was over one year between the time of filing and arraignment which presumes prejudice,” she said, adding that “the defendant’s conduct with the officer and refusing to cooperate with FSTs, refusing to take any type of test to determine blood alcohol content clearly suggests he was aware of an impending investigation.”
She then said while the court found him to be aware of his potential charges, it was the prosecution that was responsible for bringing him to court.
“I’ll be honest with you, this is a tough case for the court,” Judge Diaz said. She paused, and granted the Serna motion and dismissed Garza’s case.
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