California

Assemblyman Arambula testifies in his child abuse trial. Here’s what’s been said so far

California Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, is on trial for misdemeanor child abuse. He took the stand in his own defense Tuesday, and closing arguments are expected Wednesday.

The case centers on discipline Arambula allegedly took against his 7-year-old daughter Dec. 9. The prosecution says it’s child abuse; the defense says it didn’t happen.

Arambula was arrested and released in December and charged March 12, when he took a leave of absence from the Assembly.

So far in the case

May 13: Arambula’s wife, Elizabeth, and mother, Amy Arambula, testify for the defense, with Elizabeth Arambula saying an officer “got in her face” during his investigation. Also, she played three videos showing her daughter’s behavior when Elizabeth disciplined the child.

May 10: The defense begins with character witnesses describing Arambula as a loving, doting and caring father. “He is the most mild-mannered person I have ever met in my life,” said Nathan Miller, Arambula’s brother-in-law. “That’s why this blows my mind.”

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May 9: The prosecution rests after it finishes presenting police investigators’ testimony.

May 7: Arambula’s 6-year-old daughter testifies. As she left the courtroom, the girl hugged her father.

May 6: The 7-year-old finished her testimony, which lasted two days, but the details surrounding a bruise on her head and Arambula’s subsequent arrest in December remain murky.

May 3: The trial begins with opening statements and then testimony from the 7-year-old. She took the stand while clutching a stuffed bunny in a Wonder Woman costume. Her grandfather, former Assemblyman Juan Arambula, stood by her side for comfort. She answered questions from lawyers on both sides for about three hours before court adjourned for the weekend.

May 2: The jury of six men and six women is seated.

April 23: Proceedings in the case begin with motions and later jury selection. During this phase, Arambula’s legal team accused Fresno police of illegally obtaining confidential records in a motion to dismiss the charges; Fresno County Superior Court Judge Alvin Harrell denied the motion. Also during this phase, Arambula’s legal team revealed in court and during an interview with the news media that at least part of their defense strategy involved convincing the jury that the 7-year-old either exaggerated or lied in her statements to investigators.

May 14: Arambula testifies in his own defense. This is a developing story. Latest news from today’s trial is here.

The sides

Prosecution: Assistant District Attorney Steve Wright said his evidence shows that on Dec. 9, Arambula was so upset and angry at his daughter that he squeezed her face and smacked her, leaving a bruise on her right temple due to his wedding ring on his left hand.

Defense: Margarita Martinez-Baly, one of Arambula’s attorneys, described the care with which Arambula treats his three young daughters. He took them to church and the library on Dec. 9, made the family dinner and bathed them before putting them to bed. She said Arambula did respond to the cries of his middle daughter that night and disciplined his eldest daughter, but only with a spanking to the buttocks. She said Arambula will testify that he does not know how the bruise happened and did not notice it the next day as he was running late while dropping the girls off for school.

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