By Sam Alcaraz
RIVERSIDE, CA–In a hearing to reduce bail for Jesus Garcia, private defense attorney Charles Kenyon disputed his client’s attempted murder charge and the $1 million bail here late last week in Riverside County Superior Court.
Upon alleging the victim was not initially interviewed after the events of this case took place, Kenyon said, “It ultimately began as a physical altercation turned fist fight and a firearm dropped during that. Presumably from Jesus Garcia’s belt, and then they struggled with a gun. It accidentally went off. The firearm did strike [the victim]. It also struck Mr. Garcia. Any way you look at it this does not appear to be an attempted murder. It was not premeditated.”
The defense counsel further explains, “At the time this occurred, it was nothing but a mutual combat that got out of hand, and ultimately the firearm went off accidentally. [The victim] also stated that after…they cooled off a bit, Mr. Garcia also provided medical lengths, providing him a belt to help him stop the bleeding.”
Judge Judith Clark replied, “Well, that’s when you were a DA.”
Defense Counsel Kenyon responded, “Touché your honor, touché,” adding:
“On the other hand, there are certainly some charges that I think are validly brought by the district attorney’s office and I would ask that bail be set in accordance to those facts. The most serious charge provided in alternative…assault with weapon, which would result in $64,000 bail. Personal use of firearm, carries with it …$75,000 bail. And lastly, the infliction of great bodily injury, carries with it a $40,000 bail.”
Judge Clark asks, “$175,000? That’s what you’re asking for?” to which defense counsel replied yes.
District Attorney Amy Barajas then said, “Your Honor, the People are respectfully asking that bail remain unset. Defense counsel stated that the victim, the victim of the attempt murder, was not interviewed. That’s not correct. He, in fact, was interviewed by law enforcement but refused to state how he was shot. And he specifically said the reason he did not want to state why he was shot was because he fears retaliation.”
The DDA added, “There were two witnesses, both an adult and a 10-year-old child…their testimony was that the defendant punched the victim, knocked him on the ground, and while he was lying on the ground, the defendant stood over him, pointed a gun at him, and shot him.”
Judge Clark then said, “My understanding is…no independent witnesses actually saw the shooting. They heard the scuffle, heard the shots, and then responded. They saw the defendant standing over the victim with the gun.”
After further dispute over these facts, Judge Clark then stated, “Well I’m not here to try the case. For bail purposes, you presume guilt. Obviously, what your point is, it’s not a slam dunk on the attempted homicide. But for my purposes, I assume he’s good for it.
The judge added, “Also, I understand the victim in our case was a house guest of the defendant, the victim had been homeless…they were having a party that night, everybody just drank too much and didn’t use their best judgment obviously.”
On bail, Judge Clark stated, “Whatever happened, the bottom line is it’s his gun, he was holding it, and it fired, and people got hurt, including himself. There are some issues here for public safety, so bail is appropriate. Your proposed $175,000 is appropriate bail given the circumstances of the case.”
Judge Clark said, “I am satisfied that $175,000 would be sufficient to protect the community, an amount that he should be able to pay, maybe a stretch of it then. That’s what I’m setting it at. I don’t see clear and convincing evidence that it has to be a million-dollar figure that would be a normal schedule, given all the information that the two of you have provided me.”