Defense attorney Michael Schwartz projected onto the courtroom screen a photo of Salvador Alejandro Sanchez carrying his 20-month-old son, Noah, at the Costco in Corona on June 14, 2019. Moments later, Kenneth French, 32, who is intellectually disabled, knocked Sanchez to the ground, prompting the off-duty Los Angeles police officer to fatally shoot French and injure his parents.
“This is what this is really about,” Schwartz told jurors during the second day of closing arguments in Sanchez’s trial at the Larson Justice Center in Indio on Wednesday, Dec. 27. “The most vulnerable person there. A parent defending their child.
Jurors began deliberations Wednesday in the month-long trial. They will decide whether Sanchez, 33, is guilty of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a firearm. He faces up to 33 years in prison if convicted on all counts, said the prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney General Mike Murphy.
Schwartz described the confrontation as a “very rapid, very shocking and very traumatic event.”
Sanchez was heard in body-worn camera footage telling Corona police officers that he thought he had been shot by Frenchmen and knocked unconscious in the sausage sample line at the deli.
Murphy, in his closing argument, said Sanchez should have taken the time to assess the situation. If he had, he would have realized he was punched and not shot and would not have used deadly force.
But Schwartz said the shooting was legally justified because Sanchez had to act quickly to protect himself and his son.
“The prosecution asserts that they must confirm the necessity of deadly force before using it,” Schwartz said. “That sounds good. It flies in the face of the reality of the situation. You don’t have time right now to confirm the actual threat. Here’s the problem: If the beliefs were reasonable, the danger wouldn’t have need to actually exist. Confirming it is actually the opposite of what the law says. If the danger was real, i.e. Ken French had a gun, and you took the time to confirm, you are dead.
Schwartz said jurors should not convict Sanchez of assault because he was focused on shooting Kenneth French to eliminate the threat to himself and his son and the parents inadvertently interfered with the 10-shot volley. fire fired in a matter of seconds.
Schwartz also said that the fact that Sánchez did not fire all 13 bullets from his service weapon was proof that he did not intend to kill. He reminded jurors of testimony that once Sanchez realized the threat had ended, it would take him another second to stop shooting. During this time, several shots could be fired.
Schwartz repeatedly questioned the prosecution’s evidence. He projected a bowl and a packet of Frosted Flakes onto the screen and compared an insect falling into the bowl to the prosecution’s case, saying some elements were tainted by the introduction of unproven facts.
“If the cereal bowl is infested, you should throw out the full box,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said the prosecution failed to prove the shooting was unreasonable beyond a reasonable doubt.
“That’s the mountain they have to climb.” And they’re not even close,” Schwartz said. “The law says: ‘What did he know at that time?’ »
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