Thursday, October 9, 2008

Juarez trial goes to jury


A Santa Barbara County jury of 10 women and two men began deliberating yesterday in the murder trial of a 15-year-old Santa Barbara boy. If convicted, the boy, who is being tried as an adult, could face a life sentence.
The jury filed into a deliberation room after the prosecutor, Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer, delivered an hour of spirited rebuttal to the defense’s closing arguments, which concluded on Tuesday.

Dozer said he was “astounded” at the number of times Juarez’s defense counsel “attributed the awfulness of this case to me.”
The prosecutor challenged Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins’ statements that indicated the police investigation was somehow faulty.
Atkins said on Tuesday an interrogation of her client by Det. Gary Siegal was suspect because she didn’t feel he appropriately read the boy his rights.
In the interview, Juarez admits to swinging the knife at 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares, who was stabbed eight times during a March 14, 2007 gang brawl, and died as a result of those wounds in a planter behind Saks Fifth Avenue.
“What is law enforcement supposed to do,” Dozer asked, adding that he wondered if Atkins was implying it wasn’t really the boy’s fault he confessed, but rather the detectives. “The officers in this case deserve better than being accused of not following up on this case. It was complete, it was thorough and the evidence which you’ve got here shows beyond a reasonable doubt what he did.”
Dozer cited numerous witnesses who identified Juarez as the stabber, and said defense counsel appears not to like those eyewitnesses, but likes the ones who “she thinks are enough to walk the defendant out the door.”
During her closing statements, Atkins said Juarez did not go to State Street with the intention of killing anyone, but to protect his on-and-off again girlfriend, who had reportedly been “disrespected” by Westside gang members.
She painted a picture of Juarez making his way to State Street to defend his “love,” and when he got there, he began swinging the knife as if saying, “get back.” But when Linares didn’t get back, Atkins said Juarez assaulted him.
But she maintained the fatal wound wasn’t inflicted until later in the fight, and came at the hands of a boy referred to in court as Ricardo R.
But Dozer said the evidence simply doesn’t show that.
He said no knife was found that could be connected to that boy, but the one that was found had the blood of Linares on the blade and Juarez’s DNA on the handle.
Atkins accused Dozer of not being forthcoming with the jury about Ricardo R’s role in the fight. It was also pointed during trial that Ricardo R. pleaded guilty to assaulting Linares with a knife during the fight.
However, Dozer wondered why, if he was hiding something, he would have introduced into evidence a pair of gloves worn by Ricardo R. on the day of the attack that were laced with Linares’ blood.
“That evidence came out directly in my case,” he said. “Next time I’ve got to remember to hide the evidence.”
Dozer also challenged the defense’s insistence that Juarez is not a member of a criminal street gang. He said the evidence, in his opinion, clearly shows Juarez was a co-conspirator with the rest of the Eastside “Traviesos” gang that planned to clash with the Westside on that day.
Dozer called Atkins’ claim that Juarez went to the fight armed with a 12 inch knife to protect his girlfriend the “Romeo and Juliet,” argument, and has no merit.
In Juarez’s interview with Siegel, the boy is asked specifically if he went to the fight because he was angered over the incident with the girl, and he said he did not, according to a transcript of the interview read by Dozer.
In the transcript, Dozer said Juarez is asked if he was upset the girl was disrespected and he answered: “Not really, to tell you the truth.”
When asked if he went downtown for that reason, Dozer said Juarez told Siegel he was already down there and shook his head no.
“It’s ridiculous and it’s not in the facts of this case,” Dozer said.
Dozer left the jury to contemplate Juarez’s own words, which he spoke to another boy in hushed tone in a witness interrogation room at the police station shortly after being arrested.
The audio recording, known as the “whisper tape,” was shown earlier in the trial, but yesterday, Dozer played segments on a projection screen with subtitles.
Dozer said the defendant’s own words are “more powerful than anything I can argue and it’s more powerful than anything any witness can say because he says what he did and when he did it.”
In the tape, Juarez can be heard telling the other boy in graphic detail how he repeatedly stabbed Linares and “killed someone.”
“I was just sticking him and that fool’s all like, he’s all like f***in’ bleeding from his mouth. That’s all, that’s all I remember,” Juarez says.
Shortly after saying this Juarez tells the other boy: “I killed someone. They’ll know.”
Dozer left that phrase on the screen, and with a laser pointer, circled the words “killed someone.”
“He has no doubt what he did,” Dozer said.

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