By Jillian Rousseau and Ebenezer Mamo
ALAMEDA, CA – A jury trial proceeded here in Alameda County Superior Court last week where the accused faced a felony charge of murder for allegedly striking a homeless man three times with a 5.5-pound skateboard.
The accused said he had been raped by the victim, noting, “There is no justification…I just wanted to be free of the torment of not being good enough. I did not mean to kill him.”
Deputy District Attorney Maggie Calonge revealed in the trial the accused was said to hear delusions of people’s voices. Particularly, the accused said he wanted to be “free of mocking” and “laughing” voices that he was hearing.
Deputy Public Defender Alexia Cristina Mayorga argued this was merely an act of self-defense by the accused, noting the accused was in a relationship for about a month. Mayorga explained that during the relationship the accused was raped three times by the victim.
DPD Mayorga explained that when the police interrogated the accused, the accused told the police about the experience of being assaulted by the victim and asked for a rape kit. However, the police refused.
DPD Mayorga argued the accused defended himself as he feared future harm from the victim.
DDA Calonge argued that the reason why “there wasn’t a rape kit test was because we didn’t believe there was a sexual assault. Even the defendant acknowledges that the sample wouldn’t have necessarily shown non-consensual sex.”
DDA Calonge noted the accused continued to walk past the victim, explaining his reaction to the crime was not triggered by the past, and argued the crime of the accused should be charged as first-degree murder.
DDA Calonge further stated this act was not involuntary manslaughter because the defendant was aware of the risk to the victim’s life.
Based on PC section 245 (a) (1), “Assault With A Deadly Weapon occurs whenever anyone assaults another person with a deadly weapon, or a weapon other than a firearm, or when anyone assaults another person using force likely to produce great bodily injury.”
DDA Calonge explained this charge was not based on simply assault but that the accused knew the risk and executed the act of killing the victim, emphasizing that this was first-degree murder.
DPD Mayorga argued jury instruction CALCRIM 252 applied. It reads, “The crime[s] [(and/or) other allegation[s]] charged in Count[s] require[s] proof of the union, or joint operation, of the act and wrongful intent.”
DPD Mayorga noted hours after the attack, the accused called 911. DPD Mayorga stated, “Why call 911 if you had intent to kill? It’s because the defendant cares.”
DPD Mayorga then referenced CALCRIM 580: “When a person commits an unlawful killing but does not intend to kill and does not act with conscious disregard for human life, then the crime is involuntary manslaughter.”
DPD Mayorga revealed the accused went back to the crime scene in person to ask about the condition of the victim, adding the accused did not know the extent of the victim’s injuries and was in shock when he heard his condition.
However, DDA Calonge said the accused later wrote a letter stating, “I can’t stop seeing the image” and that his “heart sunk.”
DDA Calonge brought up this letter during the trial to argue that at the second swing, the accused knew he was hitting a “human being” and the accused “calmly” walked away from the scene once the act was done. DDA Calonge questioned why he didn’t call 911 for hours.
DDA Calonge revealed the accused stated he did not remember what happened and did not have his skateboard.
DDA Calonge further explained the accused allegedly stated, “I was just trying to wake his ass up” by trying to get his “attention.”
On the other hand, DPD Mayorga refuted DDA Calonge ’s argument stating when being interviewed by detectives the accused was afraid due to his identity as a Black man and a person as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Mayorga told the jury the accused was in a situation where he was nervous and afraid for his life.
The accused even stated, said the defense, to the detectives, “You’re two white guys and I’m one Black dude.”
DDA Calonge explained there was an incident in Palo Alto where the accused allegedly hit another man with a skateboard on the head. The man did not die but he was injured and taken to the hospital.
Regarding the accused’s background, DPD Mayorga explained the accused is a man coming to California with no employment or community, a man having to learn it all on his own and that explains his mental state.
Based on the autopsy, DDA Calonge revealed there were three strikes in the victim’s C1 which is the ring-shaped bone that begins at the base of one’s skull. DDA Calonge stated, according to evidence from the victim’s autopsy, it was a “blunt force of trauma.”
DDA Calonge asked for a first-degree murder conviction, explaining that within legal terms, it is “willful intentional express malice,” “premeditation” and “considered beforehand and deliberate thought process.”
Based on the autopsy, DPD Mayorga argued that it is unlikely that the strikes from the skateboard caused the death of the victim, explaining that one would not think a skateboard could be a weapon.
DPD Mayorga contended this was merely an “injury” and that it is normal for people to get lacerations after getting hit by a skateboard. The DPD revealed that there were no skull fractures and the deeper wounds were “rare.”
DPD Mayorga further argued the accused could not tell if the victim was injured badly because the victim was under a dark gray blanket and it was so dark outside that even the police officers needed a flashlight to see what happened.