COURT WATCH: Accused with Mental Health Issues Denied Motion to Reduce Charges  

LOS ANGELES- CA, MARCH 2: Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse March 2, 2004 in Los Angeles Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

By Estrella Torres

LOS ANGELES, CA — The accused faced four separate counts of possible bodily injury and death here this week at a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court despite the defense stressing the accused has no criminal record and struggles with “serious” mental health issues.

A defense motion to reduce the charges because of those contributing factors was denied.

The accused’s alleged crimes included two charges of willful cruelty to a child, resulting in possible injury or death. The remaining charges are assaults with deadly force, resulting in possible great bodily injury. There were a total of four alleged victims, consisting of two children and two adults.

Eight witnesses were called to the stand to testify on these four separate accounts of assault and possible injury. The court made it known the accused was a 6-1, 220-pound man.

The first witness to give their testimony described on an incident involving a six-year-old female child on March 10, in Santa Monica.

The witness said they were “walking with my family friend that night,” referring to the six-year-old child, adding, “As we crossed the street, we walked past a bus stop and suddenly I saw a fist swinging out and making contact” with the child’s face, “and she fell.”

The witness said they saw the accused stand up from the bus stop bench after the incident happened, noting the child “was shocked and then started sobbing.”

The prosecutor asked if the witness knew about any medical attention or injuries that the alleged victim received. The witness clarified the child’s “face was red and puffy” and she received “ice for her face.”

In the cross-examination, the deputy public defender asked whether the accused said anything after the incident occurred, to which the witness responded, “Yes, he said ‘You don’t know who I am’ two times.”

The witness said they didn’t recall if an ambulance was on the scene, asserting no medical aid was offered to the child victim.

A Los Angeles Police Department officer said they interviewed the alleged victim’s father stating, “The father told me he and his family went to the beach … and he was walking in the parking lot with his son, daughter, and wife” when the “suspect circled round them and struck his son on the head … the son fell to the floor and began crying.”

The alleged victim is approximately four feet tall and 100 pounds and was hit with an “underhand closed fist punch by the suspect” clarified Judge Cathryn F. Brougham.

The officer confirmed to the defense that the child didn’t appear to be in pain, and there was only one contact from the accused.

Another officer testified the alleged victim—the child—“was on his phone when he felt a hard hit to his face. (The child) was standing in the street with a napkin, mouth, nose, and teeth with blood on it” and was “pacing back and forth and scared.”

The officer added the alleged victim was “suddenly punched by an unknown subject in the face, which struck his nose and lips causing lacerations and causing him to fall to the ground .. he bled from his nose and lips profusely, he felt dazed and confused and for the next two weeks, he had what he described as concussion symptoms for the next two weeks and swelling and pain to his nose.”

Another officer revealed the accused “struck the victim with a closed fist,” and was able to obtain a picture of the suspect that matched the accused description.

The last incident discussed in court was the assault of a young adult woman at a Santa Monica train station by the accused. An officer said this alleged victim was with her boyfriend “exiting the train and a male Black person came up behind her unprovoked, pushing her hard enough to fall down and hit her face on a metal bench… the impact caused her head to bounce back and hit the concrete, making her dizzy.”

The alleged victim told the officer she had “lacerations to her nose, left knee, and elbow.”

Officer Escobedo also testified to these injuries when asked to describe their status: “She saw a doctor and sent me a doctor’s note, the bruising had worsened and the injuries and pain she was currently going through were much worse than at the time of the incident.” Pictures of the bruising were then displayed to the court.

The defense concluded with a motion to dismiss all counts based on insufficiency of evidence, and if the court was not inclined to grant it, the defense seeks a motion to reduce all the charges to misdemeanors.

The defense argued “all counts require that the force used are likely to produce great bodily injury, which means significant or substantial physical injury.”

The defense claimed the first three counts involved only one hit with no medical symptoms or medical treatment. Further, the defense examined how count four was a single push, and the alleged victim suffered lacerations due to hitting the bench, and not specifically due to the push.

Judge Brougham denied the first motion to dismiss all charges.

In regard to the motion to reduce the charges to misdemeanors, the DPD argued, “In light of his young age (the accused is 23), lack of criminal record, mental health issues which were a contributing factor here, as well as the minimal nature of these injuries, these counts should be reduced.”

Despite the defense emphasizing how the accused suffers from “serious mental health issues” and how this condition contributed to these crimes, along with having a mental health representative present at court, the motion to reduce all charges was also denied by the judge, and no additional services or treatment for the accused were discussed in court.

The case now moves to the trial stage.

About The Author

Estrella Torres is a first-generation Latina student in her 3rd year at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is pursuing a major in Political Science and a minor in Public Affairs. Estrella has a strong passion and dedication to addressing social justice issues and political activism both in her high school and university. Her positionality as a student coming from a Mexican immigrant household has fueled her to pursue career goals involved with social justice and immigration law. She hopes to help undocumented immigrants as a lawyer and promote policies that would better their lives and provide them with fair and equal opportunities. Because of this, she is planning to go on the pre-law track and foster her skills of reading, writing, analyzing, and critical thinking. She hoped to gain more experience in journalism as regards law, local government, and public policy that would further prepare her for her goals.

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