By Gwynneth Redemann
MERCED, CA- The mother-in-law of Paul Casarez, who is charged with vandalism on his neighbor’s car in July 2020, testified on his behalf here in a Merced County Superior Court jury trial Thursday, insisting the claimed “dent” in the victim’s car existed long before the alleged crime.
The victim, who lived across the street from the defendant’s mother-in-law, charged that Casarez had vandalized his car after a dispute.
Defense Attorney Curtis Bonghoon Sok presented a picture of alleged damage to the victim’s car to the court at the jury trial and asked the mother-in-law of Casarez what she knew about the neighbors whose car had been allegedly vandalized.
The witness responded by saying that she did not know them very well, noting only that there was a young man who lived there, along with a woman and two children.
Sok asked whether the witness had been home during the fight or how she had heard about the incident, and she said she was at work at that time, and only heard about the altercation between Casarez and the neighbor when she returned home that night.
Sok then asked the witness whether she had seen any damage to her neighbor’s car before the incident took place that night, and she responded that she recalled a small dent on the driver side door months before the altercation between Casarez and the neighbor had occurred.
She said she noticed it on a walk one day, because the neighbors would sometimes park with the front of the car facing towards the street.
Deputy District Attorney Lee Her asked the mother-in-law of the defendant if she ever talked to the neighbors about the dent and why she didn’t report the damage to the authorities when she saw it, asking “after you learned that your son-in-law was accused of the damage, you didn’t contact the police department or the Merced County District Attorney’s Office regarding what you knew?”
The witness responded, “No, why should I? That dent is not of my concern. It wasn’t my car.”
The witness added she was only testifying now because the neighbor is accusing her son-in-law of vandalism, when she knew that that dent existed long before the incident with the neighbor.
The DDA continued to question why she had not come forward with information regarding the dent long before the case went to trial, and the witness repeated that it was not her car, and that she “had no reason to be calling anyone” about it.
After a series of sustained objections, the prosecution said that they had “nothing further” and the witness was released.
The jury trial is set to resume in the coming days with Judge Steven Slocum.