“If there’s any reasonable doubt, you must find my client not guilty,” Ivan Sanchez’s Santa Rosa lawyer told the jury at the end of Sanchez's trial last week. Mr. Gabriel Quinnan said, “And the alleged victim, Katrina Martinez, didn’t even show up to testify against Ivan. That alone is enough to find Ivan not guilty.”
Ivan Sanchez had been found guilty for assaulting a rival gangbanger on the streets of Fort Bragg last winter, and Katrina Martinez had defied the prosecution’s subpoena in that trial as well. Although pure fear of the defendant likely was at the root of the "defiance." Fear of the defendant was a strong factor in the earlier case too.
But in the present matter, Deputy DA Tim Stoen charged Sanchez with assaulting his girlfriend Katrina Martinez with a deadly weapon, a knife, causing great bodily harm, cutting her hands as she put them up defensively, stabbed her in the chest, and kicked her in the face, causing blunt force trauma. She then ran out into the street, a bloody mess — and was nearly hit by a passing car. The gallant Sanchez followed her into the street, but eventually retreated into his house while Katrina ran away to her friend and co-worker’s house a few blocks away.
Sanchez's lawyer suggested that Katrina did all this damage to herself.
Katrina's friend, and if any young woman needs a friend worse than Katrina needs a friend, she probably doesn't live in Mendocino County.
Brittany Calliston, worked with Katrina at Safeway. She did come to court to testify. She's not afraid of Sanchez.
Stoen: “On August 26th of last year, around seven in the evening, do you remember where you were and what happened?”
Calliston: “Well, I was at home, it being my day off, and Katrina burst through the door her hair and shirt all covered in blood, she was crying and sobbing uncontrollably, her face all swollen. I was pretty surprised."
Stoen: “Did you say anything?”
Calliston: “I asked, did he do this to you?”
Quinnan: “Objection, your honor. Hearsay.”
Calliston: “May I be heard your honor?”
Behnke: “You may. But I’m not going to send the jury back [down into the cellar where juries are sequestered] — we’ve only just had the bailiff bring them in… so the ruling stands.”
Stoen: “What did Katrina say?”
Calliston: “She said like, Yeah.”
Stoen: “Who were you referring to?”
Calliston: “Her boyfriend.”
Stoen: “Did she tell you what her boyfriend had done?”
Calliston: “Yes. She said he kicked her in the head until she lost consciousness and that he’d come after her with a knife. She believed he was going to kill her.”
Stoen: “Where did she say this took place?”
Calliston: “At his house.”
Stoen: “Was she free to leave?”
Calliston: “She said he wouldn’t let her leave. She said he kicked her in the head and she fell unconscious. She was crying and sobbing the whole time. I finally got her calmed down and my boyfriend and I drove her to the hospital.”
Stoen: “Were you there long?”
Calliston: “I stayed there the entire time, until about 3:00 a.m. and then she came with me to my house and stayed for several days. She hardly slept, she was so afraid he’d come after her.”
Quinnan: “Objection! Speculation! Move to strike!”
Behnke: “Sustained. The jury will disregard the last statement of the witness.”
Stoen showed Calliston some photographs: “Did you see these wounds with your own eyesight?”
Calliston: “Yes. They gave her stitches at the hospital and we had to keep them clean, wash them with soap and water twice a day.”
Stoen: “Any change in her face?”
Calliston: “She could hardly open her eyes or eat, the swelling got so bad.”
Stoen: “Did you get a text message forwarded by Katrina’s sister, from Ivan?”
Stoen: “What did the text message say?”
Calliston: “Tell your sister to shut the fuck up.”
Stoen: “What did you do with it?”
Not exactly 'How do I love thee, let me count the ways,' but then the defendant isn't a literary man.
Calliston: “I gave it to Katrina so she could see it, then gave it to the police.”
Stoen: “Nothing further.”
Quinnan: “Katrina told you her boyfriend did this to her?”
Quinnan: “But you had no idea who her boyfriend was, did you?”
Quinnan: “And you had been friends with her for about a year?”
Quinnan: “Did she ever mention the name of her boyfriend to you?”
Quinnan: “So it didn’t spring to your mind that she was referring to Ivan Sanchez?”
Quinnan: “And you don’t know whether she had more than one — boyfriend, that is?”
Calliston: “Well, no, I guess I can’t be sure of that.”
Quinnan: “And she never said Ivan did this?”
Quinnan: “And you said her demeanor toward the officer at the hospital was rude, and her attitude toward the hospital staff was uncooperative?”
Calliston: “Yes. She didn’t want to give them any information.”
Quinnan: “But she told you she’d been at her boyfriend’s house and been knocked unconscious?”
Quinnan: “Nothing further.”
The jury was ushered out of the room and defense made a motion for a mistrial. Quinnan said the testimony of Ms. Calliston was hearsay, repeating what Katrina had told her, and that his client hadn’t been identified by the witness. Officer Awad of the Fort Bragg Police Department had searched the Sanchez house but failed to find the knife, another reason defense wanted the mistrial motion granted. A pair of Ivan’s shoes were taken and sent to the crime lab, and blood was found on the shoes. An expert in DNA testified that there was only one in 335 quintillionths of a chance that most of the blood on the shoes was not Katrina’s; however, a small amount of it was Ivan’s. Stoen asked for another day to find Katrina, and this was granted, but the motion for a mistrial was denied, and the jury was sent home for the rest of the day.
On the last day of the trial there was still no sign of Katrina, so Stoen began his closing arguments, beginning with the text messages — over 40 pages of them — sent from Ivan to Katrina’s sister, Jessica Martinez. These messages were very nasty, calling Katrina a slut and saying that she’d been “sleeping around, with 80 other guys.” There was also a number of messages from Jessica, alleging Ivan had slept with another young woman and that he was the father of the child she was pregnant with. The text messages, Stoen asserted, were proof that Ivan had a motive to abuse Katrina.
“She’s been held for over two hours in Ivan’s house,” Stoen said, “listening to all these allegations that she’s slept with 80 different guys, when he’s the one that has gone out on her and knocked up this other woman. These are the classic elements of domestic violence. After she gets out of the house, she’s all bloody, and runs into the street — nearly gets hit by a car — and here comes Ivan yelling at her. Now, all this yelling and commotion, soon attracts attention, and what does Ivan do? He flees — a sure sign of guilt, ladies and gentlemen. Tyler Baker sees him run.”
Stoen stood at a podium before the jury and referred to his copious notes. “I would submit to you that the defendant came at her with a knife, and she put up her hands in self-defense, and that’s how she got the cuts on her hands. Then she was stabbed in the chest, and you all saw the photos of the wounds. Then she runs to her friend Brittany’s house, and you heard what Brittany said about how she came in — she didn’t knock or ring the bell, but burst into the house all bloody and wounded, and I would submit to you that a person in that state would not have the presence of mind to contrive a story. She told Brittany that her boyfriend did this to her — and who is her boyfriend? Ivan is her boyfriend, he even has her name tattooed on his chest over his heart. And later at the hospital she tells the doctor the same thing, that her boyfriend did this to her.”
Stoen read from the doctor’s report that she said her boyfriend attacked her. “She stated to the doctor that she was assaulted by her boyfriend, ladies and gentlemen. Now, later on, after she had been treated and calmed down, she was not forthcoming in her statements to Law Enforcement, but Officer Awad knows Ivan, and he goes up to Ivan’s house, to investigate. And what does Ivan do? He won’t let the officer in — in fact, he keeps his hand hidden behind the door, probably holding the knife or some other weapon, and he calls the officer a bunch of names. So Awad goes and gets a warrant and returns and finds the shoes, and you all heard Ms. Rebecca Gasiola from the Department of Justice say that there was only one in 330 quintillionth of a chance that this was not Katrina’s blood on those shoes.”
There was another part of the assault charge alleging great bodily injury, an enhancement that would cause Ivan Sanchez to face a stiffer sentence, if proved. Stoen said, “This was not a slap to the face, ladies and gentlemen. These are significant bodily injuries. Now, Mr. Quinnan says there’s no victim in this case, but the facts are the facts: she was stabbed in the chest, her hands were cut, and there was blunt force trauma to the face. And she told her best friend and her doctor that her boyfriend did this to her. So, clearly, we have assault with a deadly weapon, resulting in great bodily injury.”
Quinnan said, “Katrina chose not to come to court, despite the subpoena sent her by the State. That alone is enough reasonable doubt to acquit my client of these charges. Somebody’s liberty is at stake here. The 80 guys Ivan said Katrina had sex with is not a true statement. You must read the entire 40 pages of text messages to put it in context. She went up to Ivan’s house to confront him ‘cause he got this other woman pregnant. She was enraged. She attacked him! There was never any knife found at the residence. But she works at Safeway, and she has access to box cutters at Safeway, and she attacked him with the box cutter. Now, if anybody attacks me, I have a right to defend myself, but I think she cut herself. She started to cry and be upset; and she was so upset she was willing to engage in self-harm — she even ran out of the house and tried to get run over! Ivan came out to save her, to get her out of the street. Mr. Soria said he tried to pull her out of the street. And he didn’t run away. He went back into the house. Now, we know Ivan didn’t attack her. Officer Awad searched the house and didn’t find any blood in the house, only the one drop on Ivan’s shoe, which would be consistent with trying to pull her out of the street, not kicking her in the face. Some of his own blood was on the shoes, as well, and he could have been cut by the box-cutter while defending himself. She told Brittany that her boyfriend attacked her, but when she was asked by law enforcement and the hospital staff she was rude and hostile, and to this day she remains that way. That’s reasonable doubt, ladies and gentlemen, and you can’t convict somebody on evidence like that. I’ve given you a reasonable story, as opposed to the one the State gave you, and you must therefore acquit. As for the deadly weapon, there isn’t one. The State wants you to infer there was one, but if there’s a reasonable alternative story, like the one I gave you, you must acquit my client.”
Stoen came back on to refute these comments. He said there were lots of knives at the house, and that Officer Awad didn’t take any of them. As for Katrina not showing up to testify, Stoen said defense could have subpoened her as well, but chose not to. Stoen admitted that Katrina was angry over the other woman’s pregnancy, but said she didn’t go there with a box cutter.
“She went there to confront Ivan and he attacked her. The evidence is circumstantial, but that’s enough, and I expect you to find Ivan Sanchez guilty.”
Stoen's expectations were thwarted. The jury couldn't reach a verdict. A mistrial was declared. Sanchez will be tried again in Fort Bragg on Wednesday, the 27th of August.