By Danae Snell
FRESNO – A strong victim statement here this week carried the day with Fresno County Superior Court Judge Glenda Allen Hill.
Not only did Assistant Public Defender Tina Wang’s argument on behalf of her client, Andy Munoz, to “strike his strike” fall on deaf ears, but Judge Hill said she was moved after an emotional statement about how the defendant has not only affected the victim’s life, but their two daughters as well.
The two young girls were forced to bear witness to their father beating their mother and threatening to “kill her and dispose of her body,” said the victim.
Defendant Munoz is currently being charged with six different counts all from this one incident, including corporal injury to a person whom Munoz had children with, battery with serious bodily injury, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, cruelty to a child, felony vandalism and resisting an executive officer.
PD Wang argued against Munoz receiving his second strike—the first strike was given after he caused great bodily harm to another individual in a “drunken rage”—because Munoz has “expressed deep remorse” every step of this case.
“I believe his letter to the court is a heartfelt letter stating that the harm he has caused his daughters is unimaginable. That he very deeply regrets the mental and physical injuries to the victim as well as the family. He recognized that his actions and his actions alone resulted in all this harm,” Wang said.
“He is not normally a violent man, but in situations involving alcohol he does become violent and cause harm to those around him,” PD Wang concluded.
Although alcoholism played a role in Munoz’s actions, the experience shared by the survivor of this traumatic event struck emotions in the courtroom when the victim read her letter to the court with tears in her eyes and strength in her voice.
She opened her letter by informing the court, “My life got completely flipped upside down on June 16, 2019, but it wasn’t just my life that got flipped upside down. My daughters watched the world crumble in front of them. They had to witness the man they call dad and the man that they love so deeply beat their mother. I can still hear their screams pleading their dad to stop hitting me.
“Just the other day in her virtual class her teacher asked everyone to say something about their dad. My daughter said, ‘My dad is in jail for beating my mom,’” the mother continued to share with cracks in her voice.
Even with Munoz in custody, their nightmare was not over, she shared with the court, explaining, “Even at night when me and my daughters would sleep we would hear trees hit the windows and my girls would be like ‘dad is outside, he is going to kill you.’ I could never bring peace to my girls.”
Still unable to heal from this incident, she chose to rise above and noted, “I want to make a promise here today that despite what Andy has done to me, I promise to raise our daughters to be loving, caring, and strong women. I am going to do my best to provide them the life we always talked about giving them. And I promise that I will never speak negatively or ill of you to them. I never have and I never will, neither will anyone in my family.”
After she concluded, Judge Hill opened the floor to Senior Deputy District Attorney Miiko Anderson to voice her opinion on the defense’s invitation to strike his strike.
SDDA Anderson objected to the defense’s claim on the basis “that in that prior strike it was a violent crime and this has only increased in violence because not only did the physical assault affect the direct victim, but the minors were also affected.”
Anderson argued, “In the 2014 conviction, the defendant’s alcohol problem was an issue that can lead him into uncontrollable rages. So, the defendant was well aware of that as a possibility because it was set forth in 2014 and it came to be again in 2019.”
“The People also included a criminal protective order protecting the victim for 10 years and we included a criminal protective order for the children; however, the time for expiration was noted as three years,” concluded Anderson.
Judge Hill took the floor and said, “With regard to the protective orders in this matter the court would like all three of them to be issued for a 10-year period.”
This order would cause the defendant to miss his children growing up, but the judge allowed the opportunity for future contact, noting, “The court would like those protective orders to issue for that 10-year period, but of course the court would make the provision if Mr. Munoz was to go to the family court and get an order that allows him to have contact with the minor children.”
Without the involvement of family court, the protection order would continue to stand as a no contact order with either the victim or his five- and six-year-old daughters for 10 years.
Judge Hill also chose not to strike Munoz’s strike and sentenced him to 12 years and 8 months. She noted that his acknowledgement of his wrongdoings were considered; however, the aggravating factors, prior acts of violence, and fact that his children were present prevailed overall.
Even though his daughters remained fearful, one of them left a message for their father in their mother’s written statement that she read aloud. After time passes, “She hopes that one day when she is an adult she will be able to see him.”
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