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Jury finds former Salinas councilman Jose Castañeda guilty of domestic violence

Trial begins for former Salinas...

SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE 5/24/2017 3:25 p.m. Jury finds former Salinas Councilman Jose Castaneda guilty of domestic violence against his girlfriend. 

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The criminal trial is underway for former Salinas council member Jose Castañeda.

Castañeda is facing four charges, stalking, kidnapping, sexual battery and inflicting corporal injury, for an incident stemming with an ex-girlfriend in 2015.

In her opening statement, District Attorney Elaine McCleaf recapped the events of September 2015. Prosecutors say Castañeda and the victim were in a three and a half year relationship with each other when it ended. They say he kept trying to contact the victim and she was not responding to his text messages.

On the Friday night in question, she was returning home from a friends house. He met her at the home, wanting to talk about things. She told him they would talk the next day. However, prosecutors say that's when he became violent, pushing her and dragging her into his van. They say he locked the doors, trapping the victim. Over the next few hours, prosecutors say Castañeda tried getting into the victims phone, berated her for her behavior and hit her. He offered to drive her home, but she decided to walk home. Authorities say she did not report the incident to authorities right away. Because of the Labor Day weekend, it wasn't reported until the Tuesday after it happened.

It's up to the prosecution to convince the jury that Castañeda is guilty.

"It's the prosecution's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that's to each individual juror, so, the prosecution has to prove the case to all 12 jurors, unanimously," said Berkley Brannon, chief assistant district attorney for Monterey County.

Castañeda defense attorney, James Segall-Gutierrez, asked jurors to pay attention to the witnesses who prosecutors would call and also asked them to pay attention to discrepancies between the initial police report, an investigator's report and transcripts from the preliminary hearing. The jury and alternates consist of 5 men, and 9 women. 

"They can't pay attention to the bells and whistles that are being presented, they have to look at the evidence," Segall-Guiterrez said. 

One of the first witnesses called to the stand was a friend of the victim, who testified seeing bruising on the victim's upper back and arms. She testified about a text message conversation between the victim and her after the alleged kidnapping which included a "heartbreaking experience."

During the testimony, a person watching the proceedings shouted out, and yelled "This is racism" as he left the courtroom. He also made mention of Judge Carrie Panetta's marital status, as she is married to Rep. Jimmy Panetta, who was once a Monterey County district attorney. She instructed the jury to not take that incident into account while deliberating.

A sibling of the victim also testified about what he saw and heard on the night of September 7, 2015. After a break, the victim in the case testified.

No word if Castañeda will take the stand. The trial is expected to last into next week.

 


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