Before the fifth day of Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula’s misdemeanor child abuse trial ended, his defense team tried to get the case thrown out again. The judge ruled against the motion, meaning Arambula’s attorneys will begin calling their witnesses to the stand Friday morning.
Thursday’s proceedings wrapped up the testimonies of Fresno Police officer Stephen Phebus and detective Ken Dodd. Arambula’s attorney, Michael Aed, tried to demonstrate Phebus didn’t conduct a thorough enough investigation to arrest Arambula back on the day his daughter’s teacher noticed her bruise.
Phebus was the officer who interviewed Arambula’s daughter at her school. On the stand, he said he didn’t interview the girl’s teachers, any school staff, visit the Arambula’s home, or talk with Arambula’s wife, Elizabeth.
Dodd was the detective who conducted follow-up interviews in the case.
After Dodd’s testimony, prosecution said they had no more witnesses to call. Arambula’s team then made a motion to dismiss the case on the ground there was insufficient evidence and inconsistencies in testimony.
In response, Assistant District Attorney Steve Wright referenced our sit-down interview with Arambula from December. In it, Arambula maintained he only spanked his daughter.
Wright said it shows he’s being dishonest about what happened.
“He’s asked about he injury: what did the police see, what did the teacher see, what did CPS see to get this ball rolling…resulting in your arrest,” Wright said. “He says…for lack of a better term, I don’t know.”
Arambula’s team argued their client wasn’t informed about his daughter’s injury and only asked if he had hit her.
“He said he did not, would not, and has never struck any man, woman or child,” Aed said.
In the end, the motion was dismissed.
“The court is satisfied that there is indeed sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction of the sole count in this accusatory pleading,” Fresno County Superior Court Judge Alvin Harrell said.
Also in his rebuttal to the motion, Wright acknowledged there were inconsistencies, but for the most part Arambula’s daughter is very consistent with her story about what happened.
The trial continues Friday morning.