Juana Perez Valencia: Accused Baby Killer Blocked From Testifying in English

Juana Perez Valencia OCW2.jpg
Valencia
How's this for a rare dilemma: A Mexico City native facing charges she murdered her infant baby in 2009 and tossed the girl's body in a Stanton trash can was told she could testify in her own defense today only if she spoke in Spanish and used an interpreter.

Speaking softly in elementary English outside the presence of the jury, a visibly scared, 21-year-old Juana Perez Valencia of Anaheim first told Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals that she wanted to testify in English.

But in response to Goethal's questions she changed her mind and said she wanted to use a Spanish interpreter. That answer didn't delight her own defense lawyer, Robert M. Viefhaus.

Viefhaus admitted that he didn't want Valencia to testify unless it was in English because he hoped jurors would be able to make an "emotional connection" to his client. He reasoned that an interpreter would translate her answers in a boring "monotone" that would "dilute" the impact on the jury. Either Valencia would testify in English or not at all, he argued.

Viefhaus said, "It's important that they [the jurors] don't believe she's trying to hide anything."

Veteran homicide prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh told Goethals that he trusted that he'd make the "right decision," but worried aloud about preventing "an appellate issue" if the defendant is ultimately convicted of murder.

At several points during an hour long discussion, it looked like Goethals--openly concerned about not denying Valencia the right to testify in her own defense--was willing to grant the defense wish. But he changed his mind after the defendant gave contradictory answers and didn't seem to fully grasp discussions in English of her situation.

Goethals confronted Valencia one last time, asking her if she was willing to testify in Spanish. After a pause, she said no. Viefhaus looked exasperated.

"I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't," said Goethals. 

The lawyers are scheduled to give their closing arguments in the case tomorrow morning inside Orange County's central courthouse in Santa Ana.

Police believe that Valencia--who said she was too poor to attend high school in Mexico--gave birth to the girl just before Christmas 2009 while at work as a waitress at Sombrero's Mexican restaurant in Stanton, smothered the infant, stuck the corpse in a plastic bag and tossed it into the trash.

Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies found the corpse.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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949girl
949girl

Judge Goethals is a very fair judge.  I think he's making the right decision.  If she sounds monotone because of the interpreter at least she understands what she is being asked.  BUT I see where her defense attorney is coming from.  I can see him wanting her to testify in English and if she is convicted than she could come up on appeal saying she didn't fully understand what she testified to since it's not her native language. 

On another note, I hope Baytieh loses this case just because of his prosecution of the John Chamberlain inmates and asking for first degree murder with life.  This guy is out for blood and he doesn't care if the right person pays the price or not.  How can a person try someone based on a kick and ask for first degree murder?  He's a very scary man!!

Briansays
Briansays

while i'm not particularly sympathetic to any immigrant legal or not who fails to make an effort to learn english (i think the failure to teach your kids and speak it in the home then dump your children into the schools borders on parentak neglect) lets look at the bigger pictureher words can be used for or against herthen watch a new defense lawyer use her lack of english skills as a reason on appeal for a new trial essentially blaming her own lawyers mistake as a reason for a few trial

 

BetaRayBill
BetaRayBill

Not to be a dick Mitch but you probably have no life what soever.  Every time I go online, I see yourblogs posted all over the place.  You seemto have an answer for everything with the exception that you lack the intellector IQ to actually get your ass away from that computer and figure out how to dosomething worthwhile.  All you do ispissed people off when you go trolling on this blogs.  I HIGHLY RECOMNED EVERYONE THAT READS HISBLOGS, JUST IGNORE HIM.  Don’t encouragethis intellectual midget Please.  Mitch!I am not trying to be a dick ok, I m just stating the obvious.  FYI, I make $35.00 as a free lanceinterpreter, more when I m hired by the court. I m also A Dreamer Mitch, wink wink! So if you see some grammatical errors,and there will be some, pardon me        

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

You're not being a dick; you're just stating the TRUTH!

mitch young
mitch young

You're just pissed because the inevitable has happened; the last pitiful fucks who were reading your 'Klan' series have given it up out of shear boredom.

mitch young
mitch young

"FYI, I make $35.00 as a free lanceinterpreter, more when I m hired by the court. "

Well, that explains why the PD wanted this woman to speak English. 

BetaRayBill
BetaRayBill

Why don't you just let me bone you up the ass mitch?

mitch young
mitch young

"all shorts of infections." -->"all sorts of infections'

mitch young
mitch young

Because I don't swing that way. Really good way to pass on all shorts of infections. Besides, my ass is pretty hairy. Try Gustavo, I hear he waxes his hiney weekly. 

mitch young
mitch young

"during an hour long discussion"So, ignoring the coerced labor of the 12 OC citizens, let's add this up (conservatively)

DDA - $45.00PD -- $40.00Judge - $70.00  ($140,000, sounds about right)Bailiff -- $25.00Interpreter --$25.00Court Reporter -- $20.00

So this single hour costs us, conservatively, $225.00

Thanks Jorge Bush, Vicente Fox, NCLR, etc, etc etc.

R. Scott Moxley
R. Scott Moxley

Mitch, given your low salary assessments, it's obvious you are stuck in 1996!

Streets
Streets

Actually Mitch, is stuck in the twilight zone.............

mitch young
mitch young

I'm doing the Macarena as I type this.

mitch young
mitch young

"Police believe that Valencia--who said she was too poor to attend high school in Mexico--gave birth to the girl just before Christmas 2009 while at work as a waitress atSombrero's Mexican restaurant in Stanton, smothered the infant, stuck the corpse in a plastic bag and tossed it into the trash."

Man, this one has it all.

Who needs 80 year old 'racist' cartoons when we have today's courts?

Does anyone know the age cutoff for immigration to Australia?

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