COURT WATCH: Gonzalez Case Goes to Closing as Directed Verdict Considered but Rejected by Judge

By Kristin Trent

WOODLAND, CA – The courtroom was in a state of resolve Monday afternoon, hearing two final witness testimonies and an inquiry from Judge Samuel McAdam about the potential of a directed verdict, ending the evidentiary phase of the Justin Gonzalez trial.

A directed verdict ruling for the Gonzalez case would exonerate Gonzalez of a conviction due to the lack of sufficient evidence.

After deliberating with the prosecution and defense, Judge McAdam reached the conclusion to wait for the decision of the jury, stating, “With a fact intensive case for a trial judge, it would be prudent to turn this over to the twelve judges.”

Judge McAdam’s consideration of the directed verdict is likely the result of multiple impeached testimonies, conflicting accounts, and non-compliant witnesses present in the case.

However, weighing heavily was the DNA evidence.

Robin Johnson offered that the People’s theory was that this was not the shirt Gonzalez wore that night. She argued that they changed their shirts upon hearing the police were coming, but the shirt was found near the door, which she argued was implausible.

Ron Johnson countered that the police searched the home, the shirt was found and matched the description.

Judge McAdam conceded that the defense had the stronger argument, but agreed that this was a matter for the jury to decide.

One of these impeached testimonies due to lack of credibility belongs to Ruby Aradoz who was questioned by DDA Robin Johnson again today.

Aradoz testified that her brothers were associated with the northern gang called the Norteños.

However, she denied the rest of DDA Johnson’s questions, claiming she neither attended any get togethers nor bragged that she got away with murder, which was testified by Jacob Rangeo on Friday.

When questioned by DPD Johnson, Aradoz claimed that she had never talked to anyone about the case. When she was asked if she has seen any friends since testifying originally back in 2016, Aradoz said, “I don’t have any friends.”

DPD Ron Johnson entered his direct testimony into the court’s knowledge of the testing of a shirt which was believed to be worn by Gonzalez the night of the murder that lacked the victim’s DNA.

DDA Johnson also questioned Probation Officer Sergio Pimentel regarding his interview with Christian Hernandez. He recalled that Hernandez saw the stabbing occur between trailers 115 and 117, a couple feet away from a light pole, a contentious location discussed in the trial.

After DDA Johnson’s line of questioning, Judge McAdam said in the absence of the jury,“I suppose you are asking me to make a finding that no reasonable person could believe (Raquel) Ponce Perez.”

DDA Johnson then made her closing argument, which considered Gonzalez instrumental in the murder of Ronald Antonio.

In this argument, she claimed the shirt believed to be Gonzalez’s that lacks the victim’s DNA was not the shirt he was wearing that night. She went on to claim his shirt he wore that night went wherever the missing murder weapon was.

DDA Johnson claimed the role of gang rivalry was central in the case. Illustrating to the court that Velazquez and Gonzalez were on a “hunt that night,” DDA Johnson told the court that Ronald Antonio was mistaken as a member of a rival, their “patrolling” of Casa Del Sol for rival gang members and defectors.

DDA Johnson claimed that Gonzalez had an intent to kill and that he and Velasquez were preparing for it the entire night. To demonstrate intent, she said Gonzalez knew he needed to grab Antonio in order for Velazquez to fatally stab him.

In her closing argument, DDA Johnson discussed Raquel Ponce Perez and Ruby Aradoz, two witnesses which she relies on to argue her case and whose credibility has been repeatedly questioned throughout the trial.

Ponce Perez’s testimony has been questioned with regard to her falsifying claims in order to obtain a U Visa. DDA Johnson claimed it “ludicrous to believe Ponce Perez thought about a U Visa” before her interview with the police.

DDA Johnson also claimed that “Ruby (Aradoz) wanted to help, other people didn’t.” and, “Sometimes the only way you get someone for committing murder is making a deal with someone else,” referring to the deal Aradoz took to escape being charged.

DPD Johnson is scheduled to argue his closing argument on behalf of Gonzalez on Tuesday at 9am.

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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