Judge Questions Admissibility of Expert Witness in Tellezflores Murder Case Pretrial

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By Mary Magana-Ayala

WOODLAND, CA––Pretrial motions in limine continued here Friday in Yolo County Superior Court in preparation for the trial of Jose Alfonso Tellezflores, charged with murder and attempted murder with the use of a firearm.

Judge David Rosenberg, unsure of the admissibility of a witness, called a pretrial hearing Friday to allow the defense to provide a brief statement arguing how the testimony of a psychologist is relevant to the charges.

“The issue relating to Dr. __ doesn’t raise nor has anyone raised a Kelly-Frye issue about her testimony. I do believe her testimony may be admissible if I am convinced it would help the jury make a decision on any issue before the jury,” stated Judge Rosenberg.

Kelly-Frye admissibility standards involve what can be used in juvenile cases generally.

Judge Rosenberg stated that the testimony of the psychologist did not raise a Kelly-Frye issue because, although the psychologist did not examine the defendant, the psychologist intends to testify generally.

Referencing the defense brief, Rosenberg said, “…seek to have Dr. __ educate the jury concerning psycho social maturity, that is how adolescents differ from fully mature adults in the areas of how young people consider the consequences of their actions, how sensitive they are to rewards, how susceptible youth are to peer influence, and how much youth are able to regulate their impulsive behavior.”

Judge Rosenberg started with the proposition that younger people don’t make decisions as carefully as older people.

“That is a subject that is generally understood by the public. I don’t think a jury needs an expert to tell them that,” argued Judge Rosenberg, adding the case did not pertain to an individual of 12 or 13 years old, but a defendant who was 19 years old when he allegedly committed the crimes.

“I am persuaded that Dr. __’s testimony would certainly be admissible if we ever got to a sentencing hearing. The question is whether it is admissible in a jury trial. I have my doubts that it would provide appropriate evidence or opinion for a jury, but I do want to give the defense an opportunity to offer a reply brief,” said Judge Rosenberg.

The judge asked the defense to prepare a reply brief to show how the psychologist testimony is relevant to any elements of the chargers or to any defense.

“I am not confident that the defense can do that. We don’t have a situation like the Habeas case cited by defense dealing with reckless indifference to human life but I want to give defense that opportunity to submit a very brief statement on how the testimony might be relevant,” argued Judge David Rosenberg.

He judge also said he was “inclined to grant the People’s motion and deny the defense motion but I haven’t made that final decision. I am going to wait for Mr. Betz’s brief,” referring to Deputy Public Defender Stephen Betz.

“People’s motion which seeks to explore juror’s knowledge about the term Broderick… I am going to allow it,” Judge Rosenberg also noted, regarding a prosecution’s request.

The jury trial is set to start Nov. 29.

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About The Author

Mary Magana-Ayala is a junior at UC Davis double majoring in Political Science and Chicano Studies. She is from Watsonville, California.

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