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Juror dismissed from machete suspect's trial
Yuma County Superior Court Judge Denise Gaumont began Wednesday's trial for a machete-wielding man who allegedly chased and threatened several former co-workers by dismissing one of the jurors.
Gaumont, who is presiding over the trial of Vincent Arroyo Jr., informed the prosecution and defense that one of the jurors had called the court during the trial's two-week break and informed it of an event that had happened where she worked that was similar to the case before the court.
Arroyo, who has been in jail since March 9, 2010, has been charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Prior to calling any witnesses, the juror, whose name cannot be released, was brought into the courtroom. She said that one of her employees had been arrested for pulling a knife on someone in the parking lot where they worked.
“He had some road rage on the way to work,” she said. “I didn't see it happen. I only heard about it.”
Although the juror said she felt she could continue to be fair and impartial, the defense moved to have her dismissed, arguing the incidents were too similar and that it had happened just recently. Prosecutor James Eustace, however, disagreed, saying he didn't think the juror should be struck for cause because she was not the victim of the incident, she did not see it happen and the victim was not someone she knew.
Gaumont decided it was best to remove the juror, saying because the incident was still under investigation, she may be interviewed by law enforcement again before the trial concludes, which would cause the court to address the matter again at some point later in time. The juror was replaced by an alternate.
When the trial resumed, Eustace called the state's next witness, Greg Perez, who was the plant superintendent at Associated Citrus on March 9, 2010, when Arroyo allegedly committed the offenses.
Perez testified that a couple hours after he arrived at work that morning, he left to go to a restaurant to pick up some tortillas for his wife. He said as he pulled up to the restaurant, Arroyo pulled up next to him and the two started talking.
During their conversation, Perez said, Arroyo told him to tell two individuals, including Perez's sister, that they were “marked for death.” Perez said he didn't initially take Arroyo's comment seriously, but when he said it a second time, it really started to bother him.
Perez testified that he became so angry at Arroyo that he told him to get out of his car. Perez said that as Arroyo began to get out of his car, he saw him reach over and pick up a machete that was on the seat next to him.
“I thought we were just going to throw blows. When I saw the machete, I froze. I have never been so scared,” Perez said. “I thought, ‘What did I get myself into?' I thought I was going to get an arm chopped off.”
Although they argued, Perez said, Arroyo never attacked him, instead telling him to go back to Associated Citrus and deliver his message, which he did.
After telling his sister and Bill Spencer about his confrontation with Arroyo, Perez said Spencer told him to call the police. He said as he was talking to an officer while standing at a counter inside the shipping office, he saw Arroyo drive past the company and pointed him out.
He testified that the patrol officer got in his car and went to look for Arroyo, but a short time later Arroyo returned and started hitting his sister's car with a machete, breaking out windows and lights.
From there, Perez testified, he saw Arroyo go inside the accounting office. The next time he saw Arroyo, he said, was when he was walking through the grounds and still carrying the machete. He testified that he lost sight of Arroyo when he ran around behind a building to unlock the main gate so police, who were waiting there, could get inside.
Perez said the last time he saw Arroyo was when he was lying on the ground after police had used an electronic stun gun on him.
None of the Associated Citrus employees was injured in the incident.