By Darling Gonzalez
RIVERSIDE, CA – The prosecuting attorney here Thursday in Riverside County Superior Court argued about witnesses’ validity with a defense attorney in a preliminary hearing for James Garcia, accused of attempted murder—the judge later ruled the case would resume late February.
Garcia also faces other related charges, including being a felon in possession of a firearm, shooting at a vehicle and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent.
Defense attorney John Dolan began the preliminary hearing by requesting to present a witness that could support Garcia’s claim of self-defense, and he informed the court another witness was willing to change their testimony in exchange for money for a lawyer.
“We already have testimony. She said that she’s biased, that she doesn’t want to testify against anyone, that she’s lived with that family,” Judge Villalobos explained.
Dolan then said the witness’ testimony explaining the other witness’ request for money in exchange for changing their testimony is important and he would like for that representation to be heard.
When asked if she had any comments, Deputy District Attorney Melina Londos said there was a contentious, ongoing relationship between the witnesses and it would be a waste of time to have them testify.
“At this point we’re just putting on witness after witness to reestablish that there’s a contentious relationship between these people and it just seems that for a preliminary hearing in particular it’s going into an undue waste of time,” the DDA said.
Judge Villalobos said it was essential for him to see who was being truthful based on the evidence, to make a decision, but stated that it was also important for the defense to present the witness that would support the defense’s claim of self-defense.
“If that testimony is as counsel is stating, it does change the facts…according to counsel he’s going to say that she walked out with a gun and the gun was taken away from her, is that correct counsel?” Judge Villalobos questioned.
Defense Attorney Dolan clarified that what the first witness would testify to would corroborate the woman was in the car with a gun and that the accused, his client, took the gun when she was in the car. She then, allegedly, tried to run over Garcia and two other people and that was when Garcia shot the tire of the car.
“[He will testify] that she was the aggressor of all this and threatened the life of [the defendant and two other people],” Dolan explained.
DDA Londos then explained the witness’ statement was not consistent with any of the previous witness’ statements, so the entire testimony would just be wasting time.
“At this point we have already heard different stories from multiple witnesses. We would be putting this over for another day. Mind you, after defense objected several times for the People, trailing for a witness issue. So then like, previously there was a rush to get to prelim and now we’re here it seems like we can’t spend long enough doing the prelim,” DDA Londos said.
Defense counsel Dolan argued the prosecution’s witness issue created a witness issue for the defense and that was the reason it had been delayed.
Judge Villalobos ruled he would be giving the defense one opportunity to bring in the witness to testify to support Garcia’s claim of self-defense and if that witness did not show up on the next court date, the testimony would not be valid.