By Kelly Moran, Lisbeth Martinez, Koda Slinghuff
ALAMEDA–– Dr. Shelly Peery, the psychologist previously tasked with evaluating defendant Jesus Danilo Lima’s cognitive abilities in the wake of a 2017 drive-by shooting, was brought back to court Thursday morning to be further cross-examined by Deputy District Attorney Maggie Calonge.
Calonge went head to head with Dr. Peery, who testified Wednesday for two hours in Alameda County Superior Court, where the trial went into its fourth day Thursday.
A concern about the mental state of Lima, who is charged with murder and possession of a firearm, was the focus of Peery’s testimony earlier, as conducted by defense attorney Lauren Arroyo yesterday.
Calonge addressed these concerns, questioning why Dr. Peery did not order any brain testing for Lima, including an MRI, CT Scan, or EEG. Dr. Peery explained that “those aren’t neurological tests … as a psychologist, I do not determine what is medically necessary.”
Dr. Peery was read back some of her own words from the reports she wrote in her analysis of Lima. In one section, Dr. Peery appeared to attribute some of Lima’s behavior with cooperation with the police to his upbringing in El Salvador.
“It’s essentially about the experiences that people have with authority figures that goes back to history,” she said when Calonge asked her to explain what she meant, adding that “it’s a cultural trait which means that not everyone has it.”
“I’m sorry, did you say it’s a cultural trait for El Salvadorians to be questionably cooperative?” asked the bewildered prosecutor.
Dr. Peery continued, “[H]e has his own experience with authority prior to this. I mean he had two years in the United States, but it’s mostly growing up in El Salvador, you know, what is the culture there and how are police there, that he’s superimposing on his experience with police here.”
The two then disagreed over the correlation between age and mental state. When asked whether she knew that Lima had lied to the police about “juvenile matters,” according to Calonge, Dr. Perry announced that “even toddlers lie… it’s about keeping yourself safe, it’s adaptive to situations.”
“We’re not talking about a kid here, ma’am,” Calonge said, “we’re talking about an adult man who shot someone.”
However, Dr. Perry pointed out that when it comes to adolescence brain science, lying serves as an unsophisticated attempt to protect oneself.
“We’re talking about an adolescent, right? Adolescence goes until age 25, so it’s on the spectrum,” said Dr. Perry, though Calonge corrected her and explained that in the legal system, once an individual reaches the age of 18 years old, they are considered an adult and will be tried and sentenced as such.
The trial stretched on into the second session of the court day.
After testimony from the prosecution’s DA employee who edited the audio and stored footage together on the day of the incident, the defense called Hironi Endo, a professional litigation graphics specialist, to comment.
Endo had an impressive resume, from a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University to working with NASA to owning and operating a litigation graphics design firm. He explained that litigation graphics are media that is enhanced for better comprehension in a courtroom.
Endo reviewed the footage of the liquor store on the day of the incident. He noted that the four gunshots that are heard are not from the video, but rather compiled and placed on top of the security footage.
Though Endo said he had no disrespect toward the DA employee who compiled the footage, he did seem concerned about its exact accuracy.
“If the time of the audio and video have been verified, let’s say there’s a clock and it’s accurate. But if the times haven’t been verified, then you don’t know if it’s accurate,” Endo explained to the jury.
There was a clock inside the liquor store, visible on the camera. While on the scene, an employee of the DA’s office had compared the clock’s time to her cellphone while on the scene, determining them to be synced.
Endo continued that “if you’re looking at an iPhone and a clock and you watch it over several seconds, I’d still say it’s only accurate to the minute unless you’re actually sitting there watching it.”
Endor explained that this uncertainty of the exact fractions of seconds is important, as the gunshots on the footage do not correlate exactly to the footage itself. Two of the shots fired show people in the footage who do not flinch or react at all to the sound. The minuscule differences in timing could potentially tell a different story than what actually occurred.
Next, the defense called Salvador Flores, a criminal investigator from Alameda County. Flores was asked by defense counsel to measure out something shown in the footage—Lima, allegedly, backing up and from a van and out toward a crosswalk.
Flores measured from where Lima would have started backing up to the crosswalk. Measuring up to the crosswalk was a “conservative” choice in measurement, he said, implying he walked at least that far but could have likely walked further.
At this point, the defense counsel introduced a new item into the courtroom—a rope Flores measured out to the same distance as he measured from the crosswalk. Having Flores hold one end, the attorney extended the rope out through the courtroom, around a plexiglass barrier, and out of the courtroom.
Even at this distance, the rope was only extended about 52 feet out of the total 62 feet, demonstrating just how far Lima would have had to walk.
The final witness of the day was none other than the defendant himself.
Jesus Lima took the stand to begin a testimony that will continue during the next court date. For Thursday, he answered questions about his background and history to his defense attorney.
Lima had a translator present as his attorney began a lengthy line of questioning that centered around Lima’s childhood.
Lima was born in Oakland before moving to El Salvador with his mother at the age of three. His father Faustino stayed in Oakland but sent money back to them.
Faustino was also in the video of the incident at the liquor store, and was also charged with a criminal act regarding the incident. The defense did not elaborate on Faustino’s charge.
During Jesus’ childhood, Faustino found out that his mother was seeing a man named Miguel. Hearing about Miguel, Faustino stopped sending money to them.
Around this time, Lima stopped going to school in order to help support Miguel’s agricultural work and provide for his family. He was eight years old.
Jesus Lima describes his home as having no heat and no indoor bathroom. The nearest grocery store was a 45-minute drive from home and they did not have a car.
Miguel, who became his stepfather, had a temper and would beat him with a belt when he did not want to work. At work in the fields as a child, Lima says, Miguel would stand over him and “when the work was wrong he would always hit me with a stick.”
Miguel also had a drinking problem, Lima said. When asked about it further, Lima repeated three different times that Miguel “went looking for trouble” when he drank. The police would come to Lima’s home and neighborhood when his stepdad was acting up, Lima said.
Lima managed to stop working for his stepfather around the age 13. He continued agricultural work, but saved the money. By age 16, Lima was able to bring himself and his little brother to the U.S.
Back in Oakland, Lima and his brother lived with their father, and he met a witness who testified against him earlier in the trial. Lima claims that he only met this man a handful of times and had never met the man who died until the incident in September 2017.
Jesus Lima had been to the man’s house once before, a couple years prior to the incident, when picking his girlfriend up from spending time with the man’s sister.
Later, the man and Jesus were both at the same house party with Jesus’ brother. This is the party where the man alleged Jesus threatened him.
Jesus said he was inside the house when that altercation took place in the front yard. He pointed out that his brother was only a year younger than him and they were often confused as twins.
At this point, the examination was paused by the judge due to time constraints. Jesus Lima will resume the stand next Tuesday, as the defense continues to build the narrative of Lima’s life and innocence.
Kelly Moran is currently a senior at Santa Clara University, though originally from Connecticut. She is majoring in English, with a focus on British Literature and Professional Writing, and is also minoring in Journalism.
Lisbeth Martinez is a third year at UC Davis, double majoring in Communication and Political Science. She currently lives in Shafter, California.
Koda is a junior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.
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