“Ready for Trial”

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El Centro Court HouseBRAWLEY – The seats were filled in the small Brawley courtroom as Imperial County Superior Judge Donal B. Donnelly listened to the motions presented by the defense in the People vs. Martin Andrade case, or known locally as the Martin Garza murder trial.

Defense Attorney Donald LeVine first argued against electronic media being used in the courtroom. Mr. LeVine said that his clients right to a fair trial had already been compromised by the inordinate use of social media, print, and television coverage. He said that his client’s face had been broadcast all over the valley as the person who stabbed the Brawley High student.

When the motion was denied the defense asked that Mr. Andrade’s face not be shown, or pixilated if shown in wide angle shots. Judge Donally agreed to that request.

The other motion defense argued in the preliminary hearing was the prosecution’s total lack of discovery evidence given to the defense.

Levin argued that he received over 500 pages from the prosecutor’s office which all had been redacted. Witnesses’ names only had the first name with the last name, address, age, and all relevant information blacked out.  “This is a violation of due process,” he told the court.

Levin said he had been able to track down one witness, but the others were impossible to find on such flimsy links. He also told the court that he needed the video and audio recordings of all the interviews the prosecution held with witnesses. Levin said he received only the court’s summary written  in the court’s voice. He needed to see how they spoke, body language, and other tell tale signs defense could use in his client’s case.

Prosecutor for the people, Imperial County Deputy District Attorney Jill Cristich, argued successfully that gang cases are unique. Citing past precedent, protecting witnesses and victims in gang driven crimes are necessary since gang members are known for retaliation, there is potential harm not only to the witnesses, but to their families and to the victims’ families.

With these motions decided, both sides agreed they were ready for trial. After some deliberation, the court announced that the People vs. Martin Andrade murder trial would begin at 1:30 p.m. Monday at the El Centro courthouse.