Jury Gets Instructions in Minor Sex Crime Case after Late Video Evidence Provided by Accused’s Daughter

By Leila Katibah

MODESTO, CA – Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Shawn Bessey Thursday gave jurors instructions for deliberation regarding a sex crime case involving a minor following the submission of late, new video evidence.

Accused XX pleaded not guilty to the felony charges of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and committing lewd acts toward a 15-year-old child.

(NOTE: The Vanguard is redacting the name of the accused to protect the identify of minors)

During the trial, a video taken the night the alleged crime occurred was submitted as evidence and shown to the jury.

Accused XX’s daughter discovered the video footage through her father’s Google Photos account that was synced to her devices. Realizing it was from April 14, 2019, the day of the alleged incident, she showed it to her father’s defense attorney, Steve Whitworth.

Deputy District Attorney Samuel V. Luzadas questioned Accused XX’s daughter about the video she submitted to court, asking if she showed it to law enforcement, to which she replied she did not.

DDA Luzadas inquired regarding her familiarity with Google Photos and why she found the video just this morning when the alleged crime took place almost three years ago.

In her testimony, she said she had been using Google Photos for years, and opted to sync her father’s photos and videos to her devices because he would often lose his phone. She claims she recently found the video because she was looking for things to refresh her memory of the tension between her and the victim.

The judge directed the jury to watch the interactions of people at the event in the video, not what was being said during the video.

The video contained footage of the witness’ father and alleged assailant, the alleged victim who was a child, 15, and another witness who was briefly questioned under oath in court this afternoon.

The witness in the video is asked about the contents of the video in which they are shown singing and dancing, which he stated was a common occurrence. However, he noted that it was unusual for Accused XX to film them doing this common activity like he did that day.

DDA Luzadas inquired about the clothing of the people in the video that day, to which the witness responded that the only article of clothing he remembered from that day was the alleged victim’s pink shorts, shown at the 11-second mark of the video.

Accused XX must answer to the felony charge of committing sexual penetration and lewd acts on a minor 15 years of age for the purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse by a foreign object.

DDA Luzadas addressed the element of “vulnerability of the victim” in the charges and stated the alleged victim was vulnerable because of her young age, because the adult accused took advantage of a position of trust or confidence to commit that offense, and because she was unable to resist due to being unconscious to the nature of the act.

Judge Bessey instructed the jury that, for Accused XX to be found guilty, they must find that he must not only intentionally committed the prohibited act, but that he did so with the specific intent.

After providing the jury with detailed instructions for deliberation, Judge Bessey announced that they will reconvene Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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