Victim in Alleged Domestic Violence Case Denies Injuries; Prosecution Claims It’s Common, Judge Still Sets Arraignment

By Daniella Espinoza

MODESTO, CA – A preliminary hearing here in Stanislaus County Superior Court this week wrapped up with a motion for trial in the case of Benjamin Zavala Quezada, charged with “assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury” and making a “threat to someone that can result in great bodily injury or death.”

On July 17, officers were called to a local Modesto residence in the early hours of the morning, and Stanislaus Sheriff’s Deputy Pedro Ramirez said he was informed when he arrived about 4 a.m. that there was a possible domestic violence dispute.

According to the first witness, and victim, she told the deputy she had been struck during an altercation at her home, and “complained of pain in head “after, she said, she hit her “head on concrete” and lost consciousness.

Deputy Ramirez stated the witness/victim told the officer Quezada had threatened to kill and subsequently strangled the victim, which caused her to urinate on herself.

Ramirez also noted the victim said she “thought she was gonna die” at the hands of  Quezada and suffered various physical injuries such as “blood over her lip and one of her fingernails also had blood which she complained [about].”

The victim took the stand, and said the incident started after the pair had been drinking at a party, and “we had already been arguing [before the alleged incident] and he left me behind [at the residence] and he took off. That’s when I called the police. What I wanted was to put a stop to the situation because he had been drinking and I wanted him to come back to the house.”

When asked if Quezada ever got physical, threatened, or caused her to urinate on herself,  she vehemently denied the allegations.

When asked why she called the police, the victim insisted she was “ completely drunk, I don’t remember what happened or what I told them.”

The accused’s attorney, Patrick Kolasinski suggested the victim’s inebriation could have impacted the allegations made to police.

Deputy Ramirez confirmed (the victim) “was hysterical” and “thought [he] might deport her, and that talking to [the deputy] would affect her immigration status.”

While Ramirez tried to reassure the victim he could not affect her status at the time, he said she was undeniably faced with a harsh situation, either endure a possibly violent relationship or reporting it and trusting an unstable immigration system not set up to help her.

In his closing, Kolasinski argued that with the combination of the victim’s own denials of violence by the accused, and her inebriation (and subsequent behaviors associated with such a state) there is not enough evidence for a trial and therefore “ask that this be dismissed.”

In response, the prosecution charged denial is “common with incidents of domestic violence” especially when such a relationship is so long (17 years in this case,) and children are involved, noting, “it is not uncommon for somebody who was a victim of domestic violence due to that cycle to change their testimony.”

Moreover, the deputy district attorney said that while the defense did recognize drunken behavior, injuries that result from this do not result in “a bloody lip or hitting your head on the cement and going unconscious.”

Ultimately, it was decided that motions for the case would be continued with the next hearing set in two weeks.

About The Author

Daniella is a fourth year transfer student at UC Berkeley pursuing degrees in both Political Science and Chicano studies. Before Berkeley, Daniella found her passion exploring the complexities of the criminal justice system and how this intersects with the Chicano community. After graduation, she plans to find work in the public sector where she hopes to make meaningful change in her community.

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