By Kalea Heller and Mia Machado
FRESNO – Despite a victim’s memory lapses and the defense attorney’s claims of insufficient evidence, Judge Glenda Allen-Hill ruled in favor of the prosecution here in a Fresno County Superior Court preliminary hearing last week, holding defendant Vincent George Rosas to stand trial on multiple charges in a domestic violence case.
It was alleged that on May 8, 2019, the defendant trespassed into the garage of his ex-girlfriend by crawling through a gap “usually left open for [her] mother’s cat.” Confronting the victim, he then “grabbed her by both arms… attempt[ing] to forcefully take her back home with him.”
After “kicking” the victim’s car and attempting to forcefully remove her from the garage, the defendant fled the scene.
Rosas, represented by Assistant Public Defender Tahir N. Cheema, faces charges of corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, along with aggravated trespassing. The defendant’s first charge, due to a prior conviction that took place on September 23, 2015, is filed as a felony, while the latter a misdemeanor.
After calling both the victim and the arresting officer to the stand for witness testimony, Deputy District Attorney Kendall Reynolds requested the defendant continue to answer to both charges in the proceeding arraignment.
Public Defender Cheema, citing the victim’s inability to recall many facts from the night of the incident, asserted that “there is not enough evidence” to charge the defendant with his first—and more serious—charge.
While “appreciating” counsel’s argument, Judge Allen-Hill denied the request, asserting that there is still “sufficient cause” that the defendant is guilty.
Following a formal reading of the alleged charges, DDA Reynolds called the victim of the defendant’s alleged abuse.
According to the alleged victim, the incident took place at approximately 9 p.m., when the victim, along with her cousin and mother, were in the garage “all talking about her [mother’s] car.”
The garage door, usually left open for her mother’s cat, was ajar by “9 to 12 inches.” This gap, the victim explained, was how the defendant “slid” into the garage. Once inside, the defendant grabbed the victim by both arms, demanding that “you’re my b***h, you’re coming home with me.”
Pointing to her arms, the victim indicated contact on “at least the left and right outside of her arms,” which she claimed lasted “no more than two seconds.”
Once approached by the victim’s mother—who was yelling and threatening to “call the cops”—the defendant exited the garage.
The victim said he then walked over to her car, “kicking the door, trying to get into it to leave.” Only once the victim’s sister-in-law—who had been inside the apartment and heard yelling—emerged from the house and called the police did the defendant flee the scene.
While being able to describe the events preceding the arrival of the police, the victim struggled to recall the extent of her injuries and the information she relayed to the police.
When DDA Reynolds asked multiple times if she had identified bruises and marks on her arms to the responding police officer, the victim repeatedly admitted that “I can’t quite remember,” “I don’t recall,” “Yeah, maybe, probably… vaguely.”
Although unable to identify Officer Josiah Ford as the responding officer, the victim confirmed relaying her recollection of the incident to “an officer.”
However, when asked if she showed the officer “different areas of [her] body,” she simply replied with “okay.”
“Do you recall that?” asked Reynolds.
“I can’t quite remember,” she confessed.
The DDA stated, “I don’t want you to guess or speculate if you know, do you recall doing that [showing an officer the bruising on her arms] that evening?”
“Prob…yeah. Because I know before, yes,” the victim replied.
The victim then suddenly began to give definitive answers. She confirmed that she had identified to police “multiple purple and yellowish marks on [her] arm” and a red mark on her left bicep.
She also confirmed that the purple and yellowish marks were from prior incidents and that the red mark on her bicep was “a result of [the defendant] grabbing [her]” that night.
Yet when asked if she had identified to police a red mark on her left shoulder, the victim stated, “I vaguely remember that incident.”
The DA asked, “Do you have a hard time recalling it?” And, she responded, “Yes, very.”
Once finished, Defense Attorney Cheema proceeded with his own line of questioning, focused primarily on the alleged marks on the victim’s elbow.
After reaffirming that the victim was grabbed on her bicep, APD Cheema asked if the red mark was above or below her elbow. “Yes,” she responded.
Clarifying, Attorney Cheema repeated, “I’m sorry, was it above your elbow or was it below your elbow?”
“Like I told [DA Reynolds], I can’t quite remember everything, all I know is that he grabbed”—gesturing to how he grabbed her arms—“thumbprint here, fingerprint here.”
Questioning her knowledge on how the marks appeared, Attorney Cheema asked her how she knew the marks were the result of her confrontation with the defendant, and not from a prior incident unrelated to the defendant.
“If it was another bruise,” the victim reasoned, “it would be not red, it would be purple or blue or black.”
Once the victim was dismissed, Officer Ford helped establish that on the night of May 8, 2019, “at approximately 9:09 in the evening,” Officer Ford received a dispatch “regarding a possible domestic violence disturbance.”
When he arrived on the scene the victim was outside of the garage along with other officers. After the victim relayed the incident to Officer Ford, he examined her for any injuries.
Officer Ford confirmed that on her left arm there was a “red mark that had a small laceration at the center of it, that appeared to be consistent with a fingernail.” A similar red mark was found on her left shoulder.
He also observed “some yellowish and purple bruising” on her body, that appeared to be from a prior incident, as they were “older and in a healing state.” When asked if the victim confirmed the marks occurred on the night of May 8, Officer Ford explained that she “believed” they were.
Though the defendant had fled the scene, Officer Ford confirmed locating Rosas at his mother’s house later that evening, where he was then arrested.
Once detained, Rosas claimed that he did not go into the victim’s garage, but only contacted her outside and “at no point during that evening did he lay hands on her,” he claimed.
With Officer Ford excused, DDA Reynolds requested that the court hold the defendant to answer to both counts—corporal injury to a co-inhabitant and aggravated trespassing—based on the testimony of the victim and the officer.
Defense Attorney Cheema disagreed, asking for Count 1 to be dismissed and asserting that “we don’t believe that there is enough evidence to show that the mark on her elbow… was from this incident. There was no evidence that she was actually grabbed on the left shoulder, the only marks that she described was that she grabbed her by her biceps, I think above the shoulder.”
Judge Allen-Hill, though “appreciat[ing] the argument of counsel in this matter,” sided with the prosecution. She affirmed that she believed there was sufficient cause that [the defendant] is guilty,” and set arraignment on Jan. 28 in Dept. 11.
Mia Machado is a junior at UC Davis, currently majoring in Political Science-Public Service and minoring in Luso-Brazilian studies. She is originally from Berkeley, California
Kalea Heller is a second year at UC Berkeley, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Policy. She is from Daly City, California.
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