COURT WATCH: Multiple Witnesses Testify Alleged Davis Serial Stabber Became Increasingly Isolated Before Purported Crimes

By Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – The trial to determine whether Carlos Dominguez, accused of murder and attempted murder, is mentally competent to stand trial began Tuesday in Yolo County Superior Court, with the full jury present and ready to examine the evidence.

The jury heard testimony from Dominguez’s former girlfriend, from a friend, from a coworker, and from roommates; all were witnesses that the defense presented since the burden of proof was on the defense to prove that Dominguez is mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Judge Samuel McAdam reminded jurors the question posed is not guilt or innocence but whether the accused is mentally competent to stand trial.

Deputy Public Defender Daniel Hutchinson argued in his opening statement that Dominguez did in fact show symptoms of schizophrenia.

“You will…hear how Mr. Dominguez would appear to talk to himself, not in the way healthy people sometimes do, but in ways which one former roommate…will say, ‘just did not look right,’” said the DPD.

DPD Hutchinson added one witness, Dominguez’s former girlfriend, would testify Dominguez told her, “that he believed he was hearing the devil’s voice in his dreams. Something that is shocking to an average person, but what experts will tell you is completely common with people with schizophrenia.

“And…other witnesses will describe the gradual transformation they observed as Mr. Dominguez changed from a healthy, socially engaged, motivated young man to a man who was completely withdrawn, emotionless, and physically unrecognizable,” Hutchinson added.

Since his arrest, said the public defender, Dominguez has been in an isolated cell in Yolo County Jail Medical Unit because of a concern that he will hurt himself, “requiring officers to observe him every 15 minutes. And what do they see? He sits there each day in his empty cell, unclothed, unmedicated, untreated for his mental illness.”

Before wrapping up his opening statement, the DPD explained that, while in custody, Dominguez became less and less responsive, and for a three-week period in late June he ceased communication with his defense team altogether.

Judge McAdam then sent the jurors on their morning break, and before bringing them back, Deputy District Attorney Frits van der Hoek made a complaint about an objection that he had made during the defense’s opening statement and that Judge McAdam had overruled.

The judge then told DDA van der Hoek to file a formal written brief concerning the issue by Thursday if he was serious about the issue, but that it would not be formally argued Tuesday.

After the jury returned, DDA van der Hoek began his opening statement, explaining an accused is mentally competent to stand trial if they can understand the nature and purpose of the criminal proceedings against them, assist their attorney in a rational manner, and understand their own status in the criminal proceedings.

The DDA argued that the evidence would show Dominguez is competent and is simply “toying with the system,” pointing to how Dominguez was able to answer general knowledge questions asked by a doctor except for when he responded Dr. Seuss when asked who wrote the famous play Hamlet.

DDA van der Hoek stressed to the jury they should frame the issue as whether Dominguez cannot stand trial or will not stand trial, and that the assumption is that the accused is competent to stand trial.

The defense then presented the first witness, Dominguez’s former girlfriend, who explained how she had seen a change in Dominguez’s physical appearance and hygiene during their time together, gradually losing weight and becoming more reclusive, especially after she made the decision to end the relationship.

When asked by DPD Hutchinson if she noticed Dominguez staring off into space, she said he would, but added this didn’t happen “extremely often, probably only a handful of times I’ve ever seen that.”

Asked if she ever heard Dominguez say he heard “the devil’s voice,” she said yes but didn’t press further because “the whole concept around that freaked me out a lot.” She added he was not receptive to the possibility of being diagnosed with a mental illness.

On cross-examination, DDA van der Hoek asked her if she recalled if Dominguez could perform basic daily activities, which she said he could, but on redirect explained that this recollection was from early in their relationship.

Judge McAdam then excused the witness, with the possibility of being recalled, before the defense presented the next witness, a close friend of Dominguez.

This witness, and two other witnesses who were roommates of Dominguez, restated there had been a noticeable difference in Dominguez’s physical appearance and his increasing reclusiveness.

One of the witnesses the defense presented, Dominguez’ coworker, explained how there would be moments during work where Dominguez would blank out and stand staring at nothing while their orders came in.

But on cross-examination, DDA van der Hoek asked her if it was normal for employees to feel sleepy on the job, to which she replied that it was, given the late night shifts they might work.

During cross, one of Dominguez’s former roommates said that Dominguez would smoke marijuana often but rarely drank alcohol. He explained how Dominguez’ behavior became so distant from them that all the roommates came together to consider whether Dominguez needed some kind of expert help.

The last witness to testify, another former roommate of Dominguez, explained there was once an instance in which, late at night, he heard Dominguez yelling and shouting in his room, but didn’t investigate it until the next day when he went into Dominguez’s room and saw bent bed frames and a small hole in the wall.

Before DDA van der Hoek could cross-examine this witness, Judge McAdam announced they would stop for the day, and excused the jury with the instructions that they would continue with this same witness Wednesday morning.

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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