COURT WATCH: Defense Claims ‘Vindictive Prosecution’ after Prosecutor Late in Turning Over Crucial DNA Evidence 

By Bryan Miller and Darlin Navarrete 

WOODLAND, CA – A man accused of felony carjacking here will—despite a jury being unable to convict him in a previous mistrial—be retried again later this month in Yolo County Superior Court in what his defense is calling a “vindictive prosecution.”

The accused’s case was delayed after an important piece of evidence—a shirt containing DNA samples—wasn’t made available until the accused’s mistrial, something that could have made a real difference for the defense in the previous trial.

Deputy Public Defender Jonathn Opet argued it could have been the key to proving the accused’s innocence. However, Judge Daniel Maguire ruled that there was no Brady Violation because it would not have impacted the case.

The defense now suggested the upcoming trial is a “vindictive prosecution,” where the prosecution is pursuing charges against a criminal defendant out of spite, retaliation or a desire to punish them for asserting their rights.

This new piece of information, the shirt, was found in the police report but was not presented to the defense until January despite report records confirming the completion of these reports back in September.

The accused’s case previously resulted in a mistrial with three jurors voting guilty, but DPD Opet suggested inclusion of the shirt in question may have swayed those three jurors to vote not guilty.

Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian argued the shirt was “neutral” and did not prove the accused was not guilty.

DDA Kian claimed the Department of Justice was not able to pull a valid sample off of the shirt in question, noting there were “four or more” samples of DNA on the shirt.

DPD Opet argued that the DOJ not being able to pull the DNA of the accused off of the shirt could still show the accused was not guilty, noting, for instance, someone not being seen on security footage may sometimes mean that it simply failed to see them—or in many cases, it means the individual was simply not there.

Judge Maguire sided with the prosecution, even after DPD Opet said if his client would have been convicted in the previous case, newly-presented details such as this shirt would have been considered serious and important.

And, upon the date setting, DDA Kian requested video surveillance of the courtroom from the accused’s last appearance, and that resulted in a verbal outburst from the accused, who said it only showed in appearing late and in the wrong courtroom.

Kian insisted on the video of the courtroom because the prosecutor said it showed the accused should not be allowed to be free out of jail without supervision.

The defense claimed the accused followed the rules of his release and probation confirmed he was reporting with probation regularly.

Judge Maguire said he would turn over the video because it’s public record, noting he would be ruling on the accused’s release conditions later. The jury trial is Feb. 26.

About The Author

Bryan Miller is a fourth year political science - public service major at UC Davis. He has a desire to pursue law in the future and has a large interest in the justice system and constitutional law. In his free time Bryan likes to spend time outdoors fishing and hiking.

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