Jury Deliberation Begins in Apodaca Kidnapping, Assault Trial

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By Brinda Kalita

VENTURA, CA- The trial of James Apodaca—facing kidnapping, assaulting a peace officer and other related charges—proceeded Monday in Ventura County Superior Court with closing statements and, after, the jury being sent out to deliberate.

Deputy District Attorney Rafael Orellena first addressed how, throughout the trial, there was a debate on whether Apodaca viewing pornography prior to kidnapping his victim was a clear sign of intent to rape the victim.

The prosecutor argued to the jury that despite it not being a clear sign of Apodaca’s intent, it is still an important thing to keep in mind in addition to all of the other issues brought up throughout the trial.

DDA Orellena then listed many of other things that Apodaca allegedly did in conjunction with viewing the pornography, such as contacting the victim, following the victim, dealing her marijuana, making plans to put a human in a car trunk and building a strong relationship with the victim.

Next, DDA Orellana discussed the importance of the victim’s testimony and the video of the victim, submitted into evidence, of the victim being put into a trunk to be potentially physically harmed.

Then, DDA Orellena reminded the jury of the DNA evidence which revealed Apodaca had taken away the victim’s phone from her against her will.

DDA Orellana also stressed how the crime of kidnapping and robbing the victim of her phone was a clear sign of the clear planning of the crime, which highlights the deliberateness of the crime by the accused.

“There was no motivation for revenge. He chose to victimize her because he was indifferent to how this would all affect her. He even turned up the music when she screamed,” Orellena noted to the jury.

DDA Orellana then reminded the jury that Apodaca ran away from a deputy, an officer that he had assaulted in the process of escaping from the scene. 

DDA Orellana also mentioned the importance of the jury to come to a unanimous verdict across all of Apodaca’s charges, and not just to look at them in isolation from each other.

Finally, DDA Orellana stressed that all of the testimonies from each witness lined up in terms of the sequence of events, and Apodaca only lied about certain things because he knew that he was guilty.

Defense Attorney Martin Zaehringer then delivered his closing statement, reminding the jury that the victim had asked the accused to deliver marijuana to her, and that Apodaca had given her money for things she wanted.

Next, he added that the pornography was no way connected to a desire to rape the victim.

Then, he argued there was very little evidence suggesting that the victim’s phone wasn’t taken away long enough to prove that it was deprivation of property.

Defense counsel Zaehringer insisted that just because Apodaca picked up a pole in the presence of an officer, it does not mean that he planned to assault the officer.

He stressed to jurors that they look at the case holistically.

DDA Orellana, in his rebuttal, maintained Attorney Zaehringer was making excuses for clear facts, and that everything from the pornography found on the accused’s phone to the kidnapping was all connected.

The jury was then sent into deliberations. 

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About The Author

Brinda is a second year History/Law and Society major at UC Riverside. She plans on going to law school right after graduation in 2024 and hopes to become a judge one day!

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