Jury Deliberates, Must Decide Truthteller in Vehicle Vandalism Trial

By Jake Wylie

ALAMEDA, CA – Closing arguments in a case of alleged vandalism were delivered here Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court, with each side claiming that the other was the real vandal.

The accused was arrested for alleged vandalism in February, 2020. A year and a half later, three days of arguments ended before Judge Kimberly Colwell.

While Deputy District Attorney Jake O’Malley began and ended the trial with the words “anger and a lack of self-control,” Assistant Public Defender Amy Golinveaux used the words “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“[She] lost her cool when confronted with a situation that people deal with on a daily basis: getting their car dinged in a parking lot,” said O’Malley. “And instead of being reasonable, instead of checking for damage, instead of asking to exchange information, she took it upon herself to get revenge.”

Three witnesses related to the victim were there on the day of the alleged crime. These victims all testified, describing a similar sequence of events that took place over the course of about 15 minutes on Feb. 22, 2020.

The victims explained that they were on their way to a Ross store in Dublin when, after parking in a parking lot, a gust of wind blew against their Honda CR-V’s open front driver-side door which collided with the accused’s Chevy Bolt.

“[The victims] couldn’t even tell if there was any damage done, because that’s what a gust of wind would do,” said O’Malley.

the accused and her daughter arrived at the scene while the victims were inspecting their Chevy for damage, as the accused’s daughter testified. She and her mother had spent the day together shopping and having brunch before they got tired and went to leave.

While the accused confronted the victims, her daughter walked straight to the Chevy’s driver door. “Her mom is handling the situation,” said Golinveaux referring to the accused daughter. “She doesn’t want to get involved. She doesn’t want to start a conflict.”

DDA O’Malley cited the accused ’s statement to the victims at that time – “How would you like it if I hit your car?” – suggesting the accused’s ability and intent to commit the act of alleged vandalism.

Then, according to O’Malley, the accused used the passenger-side door of her Chevy to damage the victims’ Honda.

“This right here is intentional,” said DDA O’Malley, referring to pictures of the damage done to the Honda. “It’s fairly deep and even peeled some paint off the car.”

O’Malley explained that the accused is “not a large woman” so the damage to the victims’ car would’ve taken considerable effort: “What you see here is consistent with the defendant hitting the car between two to four times,” said O’Malley.

PD Golinveaux told the other story, where shortly after scolding the victims – who reacted “rudely” – the accused joined her daughter in their Chevy.

“[She] doesn’t bash in [the victims’] car with her passenger door,” said Golinveaux. “She doesn’t do this multiple times with all of her force. She gets into the car and sits next to her daughter.”

As O’Malley described, the victims wanted to exchange insurance information with the accused who climbed into her Chevy. To prevent the accused from leaving the scene, they stood behind the Chevy.

“Was this the most responsible thing to do? Maybe not. But this woman had just vandalized their car and was refusing to try to solve it with them,” DDA O’Malley said.

“[The victims] wouldn’t let up,” said PD Golinveaux of the victims. “They banged on [her] car and escalated the confrontation to the point where the accused rolled down the window to get them to stop.”

According to Golinveaux, things deteriorated when one of the victims came to the accused’s window and physically assaulted her, grabbing at her and her sweater.

O’Malley played a video taken by one of the victims near the end of the interaction. “We just want to talk – you literally just hurt our car,” shouts one of the victims at the accused. “I’m, like, shaking,” says another victim.

In so stressful a moment, explained PD Golinveaux, the accused’s daughter saw her mother next to her “having trouble catching her breath, and [knew] that she need[ed] to get out of there.”

Then the video shows the Chevy drive forward over a dirt median and away from the scene, after which the victims contacted the police.

After leaving the scene, the accused’s daughter drove to a hospital where the accused had to stay for several days and underwent surgery.

Deputy Christopher Armosino was first on the scene and took statements from each of the victims. As O’Malley explained, Armasino called the victim’s daughter several times, and when he identified himself, he was hung up on.

Despite this, after being discharged from the hospital, the accused and her daughter went to a local police station and attempted to report the events of Feb. 22, explaining that they were the ones who had been vandalized and assaulted.

As PD Golinveaux pointed out, this piece of information was not produced by the prosecution.

Golinveaux also named several inconsistencies in the victims’ timeline of events, suggesting that the victims wanted to tell a story where they were all witnesses to the full events of Feb. 22, 2020, but that not all of them saw what unfolded.

The accused was arrested in May, 2021 for her alleged crime.

“[The defendant] did commit this crime, but that doesn’t make her evil… She simply won’t take responsibility for something that she did on this day,” O’Malley told the jury, adding, “Hold her responsible.”

“When you go into the deliberation room,” PD Golinveaux countered to the jury, “you must hold the prosecution to their burden… look critically at the evidence, and to return only a reasonable verdict supported by that evidence. A verdict of not guilty.”

About The Author

Jake is a senior majoring in English and psychology at UC Berkeley. He is a born-and-raised San Diegan.

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