Prosecution Aggressively Questions Accused during Cross-examination in Burglary, Robbery, DV Trial

By Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – “So you’re saying you’re dumb and don’t remember what you pled to?” asked Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek as he was questioning the accused during his trial here in Yolo County Superior Court this week.

The accused was charged with burglary and robbery in the first degree in March. The accused was also charged with inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant and assault likely to produce great bodily injury, with enhancements for another person being in the building at the time and for a prior serious felony conviction.

Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan began direct questioning, asking the accused about where he was at the time he heard the charges placed against him.

The accused responded that, while he was not in Sacramento, “I do not want to be in another place going to jail for something I did not do.”

DDA Van Der Hoek began cross-examination with stern questioning: “You beat women, correct sir? In fact, you’ve beat women on at least two prior occasions, isn’t that correct? In fact, you beat a woman who was the mother of your child.”

Judge Tom Dyer, who presided over this trial, sustained DPD Davtyan’s objections after DDA Van Der Hoek repeated the same question, noting to the prosecutor, “I believe he’s already stated that he recognized the [prior] battery charge.”

The accused explained he pleaded guilty to prior charges to get a reduced sentence and “go home to take care of my six kids.” The accused confessed “my attorney said if you want to go home, take this plea. I’m not smart…I pled out.”

DDA Van Der Hoek repeatedly asked the accused to admit to his previous felony convictions, and after the accused denied any culpability Van Der Hoek stated “all right but you know you’re a felon right? You’re a multiple-time felon, aren’t you? Three-time felon, right?”

The accused admitted, “I’m responsible for whatever, but I’m not responsible for hitting anybody…I live in poverty, I don’t have good advice given to me, I made dumb decisions.”

Judge Dyer overruled a request by DDA Van Der Hoek to strike the accused’s entire testimony from the record based on his refusal to answer a question that was later objected to and sustained.

The accused was audibly irritated by DDA Van Der Hoek’s questions, yet DDA Van Der Hoek insisted on specific answers.

“Would you say that you’ve been arguing with me today?…Were you talking to her [the victim] more calmly than you’re talking to me?” the DDA stated.

The trial is ongoing this week.

About The Author

Ivan Villegas (he/him) is a criminal justice graduate from CSU Sacramento. He wishes to continue his studies in law school starting in fall 2023. He is interested in immigration and international law, and hopes to use his degree for a career as an immigration attorney.

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