State v. D.A.S.
Laredo, TX – On March 12, 2020, a jury in the 341st Judicial District Court of Webb County, Texas presided over by Judge Beckie Palomo, found D.A.S. not guilty of all counts in a three-count indictment. D.A.S. was indicted with one count of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon Causing Serious Bodily Injury Family Violence – Felony 1; one count of Aggravated Assault by Strangulation Family Violence –Felony 3; and one count of Assault Causing Bodily Injury Family Violence – Class A Misdemeanor. Daniel Alejandro Sanchez was facing up to 99 years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.
On February 23, 2017, Laredo Police Department Officer Raul Rios was dispatched to the intersection of N. Bartlett Ave, and E. Locust St., across the street from J.W. Nixon High School for an alleged assault in progress.
At trial, during the cross examination, the alleged victim, Stephanie Ramirez, admitted that she used heroin two hours before the alleged attack. Ramirez claimed that D.A.S. was strangling her with both hands, squeezing her neck, and walking her back until she fell on the bed. She testified that once on the bed, Sanchez continued to squeeze her neck with his left hand while he repeatedly punched her in the face with his right hand. She testified that she was beginning to lose consciousness when the Pitbull began to bite her and D.A.S. did nothing to stop it. The State’s theory of the case was that D.A.S. was reckless by allowing the Pitbull to attack Ramirez while he was punching her.
Officer Rios was the primary officer in the case. He admitted that although there was a large crowd of people outside of Nixon High School, he did not obtain any written statements from anybody. He stated that he immediately detained D.A.S. and never gave him the opportunity to explain his side of the story. He further admitted that he never went inside the house where the alleged assault took place to see if there was any blood on the bed to corroborate Ramirez’s story. Photographs of the bed in question were introduced into evidence and no blood could be seen. Rios testified that nobody requested that the bed comforter be preserved for evidence.
D.A.S. took the stand, and he was finally able to give his account of what happened the morning of February 23, 2017. He testified that Ramirez walked into his home acting erratically, and she began to assault him. He testified that he did not defend himself, but that his dog was becoming agitated by Ramirez’s behavior. He testified that Ramirezfell by the entrance of the home, and the dog began to bite her on the face. D.A.S. testified that he immediately began to kick and punch the dog to let go of Ramirez’s face. He testified that he pried the dog’s jaw open until it let go of Ramirez. Photos admitted into evidence showed a pool of blood by the door consistent with D.A.S.’s testimony.
Medical records introduced at trial indicated that the only injuries suffered by Ramirez were the lacerations caused by dog bites. The medical records did not indicate any bruising to Ramirez’s face or neck. According to the medical records, the CT scan showed that there was no swelling of the brain that would be consistent with lack of oxygen from a strangulation.
The Jury deliberated for 2.5 hours and delivered a unanimous verdict of Not Guilty on all counts.
Defense attorney Javier Guzman represented Sanchez, and he was assisted by aspiring student of the law, Elizabeth Vela.
Assistant District Attorneys Kassandra De Hoyos, Chief of Misdemeanors Aaron Bundoc, Rogelio Soto, and Chief of Domestic Violence Unit Pedro Guajardo, prosecuted the case for the State.