By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief
SACRAMENTO, CA – A former prosecutor, and now defense attorney, has a bone to pick with the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office on behalf of a client the attorney describes as a hero.
Matthew J. Martinez, in fact, is accusing the DA of “prosecutorial misconduct.”
A jury found Martinez’s hero not guilty of assault with a firearm this past Monday after a little more than a day of deliberation – attorney Martinez insists the man saved a family from a dangerous domestic violence situation.
Defendant Dewayne Lewis was accused of shooting the “victim” – after first firing a warning shot – when the man approached him, four children aged 2-13 and their mother as they ran from the victim, who just minutes earlier had beaten the mother and destroyed parts of a house in a rage.
Martinez maintains that when the mother and the shooting victim were out at local bars, the 13-year-old contacted two babysitters to come get them because they were afraid of their stepfather, as the victim began his evening by breaking out the car windshield on the way home from the bars.
When they got home, the victim allegedly punched the fiancée/mother multiple times, broke out windows and punctured a heavy security door at the home, said Martinez, explaining the teen then called 911.
Meanwhile, Lewis – the boyfriend of one babysitter called for help – arrived with her, and watched as the children and mother ran for the car as the victim chased after them, yelling they can’t take the children, Martinez said.
“He comes running at my client in his Jeep. My client is the legal licensed owner of the gun he has. He fires a warning shot in the air as the ‘victim’ charges his vehicle. The children are being loaded into his car. The ‘victim’ does not stop and my client shoots him once in the chest, paralyzing him,” said Martinez.
But there’s much more to the story, according to former Deputy District Attorney Martinez, who said his client’s defense was “self-defense, but more importantly defense of others.”
“He clearly went there with the motivation of saving those children and their mother from a domestic violence situation. The so-called victim was clearly committing multiple acts of domestic violence and false imprisonment, not to mention child abuse. If my client did not show up when he did who knows what other acts of violence this individual would have committed that night,” said Martinez.
But Martinez said he was “particularly disturbed by the DA’s granting of immunity to this perpetrator of domestic violence and their reluctance to grant immunity to the defense witness who would call into question his version of events, not to mention limit the ability of the defense to explore prior domestic violence.”
In short, the DDA gave immunity to the shooting victim for his acts of domestic violence, to prosecute Martinez’s client for shooting the victim as the victim attacked the defendant’s car with the already-beaten mother and children inside.
The DDA decision to give immunity to the domestic violence perpetrator was “an unethical stance,” said the defense attorney, who added that “it took intervention by someone more senior in the DA’s Office to change it.”
Martinez said the DA’s Office did grant the defense witness immunity eventually. but only after days of legal wrangling that prolonged the trial by days.
“It is bothersome that the DA’s Office held onto such a clearly unethical position for so long. Ultimately, this case is an example of the Sacramento DA’s Office attempting to alter basic facts of a case to obtain a conviction at all costs. The job of the DA’s Office is to seek justice, not present distorted facts to a jury in an effort to win,” charged Martinez.
He also suggests that it “it also calls into question the DA’s Office’s commitment to prosecuting domestic violence. Why would they start out a trial protecting the domestic violence abuser with a grant of immunity, while taking the position that a grant of immunity would not be appropriate for the victim of the abuse?
“How does this Office look domestic violence victims in the eye with promises of justice for them going forward? Until the very last day of evidence the DA was holding onto the claim that they simply did not have to extend immunity.
”Such an unethical stance is an example of prosecutorial misconduct. Someone high in that office realized it before it was too late in my case. However, what about next time?” Martinez asked.