Trial Begins for Man Charged with Maybe Giving Victim ‘Raccoon Eyes’

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By Anna Olsen and Jaanvi Kaur 

ALAMEDA, CA – During a jury trial here in Alameda County Superior Court Monday, a doctor specializing in emergency medicine spoke to the jury about an assault victim’s facial injuries, noting they could be “raccoon eyes.”

Charles Scott Spingola is facing a felony charge of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.

Before the trial commenced, the assigned defense and prosecution counsel and Judge Barbara Dickinson discussed whether or not to present certain instructions and evidence to the jury.

Most notably, there was a disagreement over whether or not to include an instruction regarding Spingola telling the victim to “step outside” before the assault.

“I do believe it’s applicable,” the prosecution argued, adding, “We have a testimony from the defendant that he was called a liar, it made him upset, he challenged the victim to a fight, and he said in his own words that the purpose for going outside was that he was going to kick his ass.”

The defense testified that “it would be prejudicial to Mr. Spingola to leave this instruction to the jury” and that “the jury might be led to misuse this instruction.”

Judge Dickinson disagreed with the defense, arguing Spingola had testified to evidence to support the inclusion of this instruction and that it wouldn’t prejudice him.

The defense then requested the court include two portions of Spingola’s statement “in which he states that he did not expect that the victim would actually step outside.”

“I think that would be important for the jury to have the full picture in considering this instruction,” the defense argued.

Judge Dickinson denied this request, arguing that “the evidence is what it is. He’s already testified to the fact that he asked him (to go) outside. I’m not going to allow you to submit extra evidence without bringing that to him.”

The defense was insistent and asked Judge Dickinson if she could be given some extra time to research before trial.

“Whether or not Mr. Spingola had intent to create an excuse to use force… I think that is asking the jury to speculate and to jump to conclusions and it’s going to lead them down a path that distracts them,” the defense insisted.

The trial commenced in the afternoon and began with testimony from an unnamed doctor who specialized in emergency medicine for 23 years.

In regard to the injuries the victim sustained, the doctor testified that the force of the punch had to “have been significant, not a small, light punch.”

The victim suffered two black eyes from the assault and had visible bruising around the eyes, especially the left.

The doctor also testified to the possibility of the injuries being “raccoon eyes,” which is a type of medical condition typically referring to the bruising that occurs from force around the eyes.

According to the expert, these could signal serious injuries such as a brain injury.

The trial will reconvene Tuesday.

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About The Author

Anna Olsen is a recent UC Berkeley graduate originally from Seattle, WA. She double majored in law and global studies and plans to head to law school after taking a gap year to become a juvenile defense attorney.

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