By Tatiana Gasca and Dario McCarty
ALAMEDA, CA – David G. Arias has served time in jail for two felony counts, one for obscene acts with a minor and the other for aggravated sexual assault.
But, this time, Alameda Public Defender Laurel Arroyo argued that the alleged victim has created an outrageous lie, has a bad memory and her client is not guilty.
“This is the moment where her inarticulable complaints…become sexualized,” said Arroyo during a jury trial in Alameda County Superior Court late last week.
The prosecution claims that she was just 13 years old when the salacious acts occurred, and that the victim was transitioning into the 6th grade when Arias would take advantage of her in the bedroom and bathroom.
Deputy District Attorney Emily Tienken said, “Make no mistake. This is not exciting for her. This is not a good thing. This is not a kid who wants this kind of attention…She’s not trying to remember this trauma.”
During the trial, it was revealed that the victim disclosed this information to a couple of friends at school. Each person testified as a witness, where the situation was recalled in different ways. However, Tienken justified that all details were consistent with the assault, and that the attention should be directed toward the victim’s abnormal behavior.
“They took what she said seriously. In part because of who she was. Quiet, not the center of attention, not dramatic…They believed she needed help. They believed it so much that they broke a promise to her.” Tienken was referring to the fact that the victim did not want to disclose the situation elsewhere. Yet, they took initiative of the situation by telling their teacher.
It was during this interaction that the victim finally reported the assault to CPS. She was required to stay in custody for several days, and she said she was in fear that she may never see her family again.
During closing arguments, DDA Emily Tienken concluded, “Consider this, are you holding against her sort of…subconsciously or implicitly your own biases or expectations about how she should act? Are you expecting her to be well-versed in critical thinking skills and logic and reasoning? Cause if you’re expecting her to rise to that level, rise to the bar that you yourself have set in your own mind, she’s not there yet. She’s 13. We got to meet her at her level.”
However, Arias’ defense attorney, Arroyo, took the closing statements as an opportunity to claim that the victim is an unreliable witness because of her memory issues, because the victim could not recall exactly when each alleged episode took place, and other details she told police and testified in court.
“It’s the lack of trust in her own memory that causes her to rely on the adults around her and fill in the gaps,” replies Arroyo. There was no medical evidence or physical proof that the defendant assaulted the alleged victim.
For instance, Arroyo pointed to the fact that the victim had told police that Arias had threatened to break her fingers, and would beat her with a belt and a television cord. However, during oath-sworn testimony, the victim testified that Arias had never done any of these things. Rather, she admitted to having a bad memory.
“She changes her story. You will see that when she says this. The officer is prodding her to give salacious details in order to please him,” Arroyo replies.
Arroyo also pointed out that there was no other supplementary evidence other than the testimony of the victim.
“There’s no additional evidence,” said Arroyo. “No physical evidence, no videos, no witnesses or people that live with her that can back her up, no prior allegations of sexual abuse, no corroborating evidence. There is only the word of a teenager with memory problems.”
As such, in Arroyo’s opinion, there was not enough evidence to convict Arias as guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
“In our justice system, you are deemed guilty or not guilty,” the attorney said, “But a not guilty verdict includes everything from innocence to the charge not being proven. So even if you think he is ‘probably guilty,’ that is included in ‘not guilty’ because ‘probably’ is a hunch.”
The story then went into deliberation Friday with no reported outcome last week.