District Attorney Ken Heimerman
A verdict has been reached in the trial of Raul Ponce-Rocha.
The State began closing arguments Thursday morning just before 10:30 a.m.
“Evidence shows Raul Ponce-Rocha was at the scene. DNA shows he was at the scene. The story he tells you is all lies.” Explains District Attorney Ken Heimerman.
“The only person that knows the motive is Ponce-Rocha and he's not telling it to you.” Says Heimerman.
He says “Raul knowingly went to the apartment knowing he was going to steal something, he puts on that striped glove from his car, and the other glove is in his bedroom. Ponce-Rocha is ready to do a burglary with one glove on; if that intent wasn't there he would have left the glove in the car. He enters the apartment and finds clothes baskets; evidence shows he likes to collect women’s underwear, he took two pair of underwear from basket, and he moves on to the bedroom….Runs into Breanna Schneller, now he's holding her underwear with no good explanation.”
Heimerman says Ponce-Rocha was not sure if she was dead, hence the brutality.
“He leaves the scene with her cell phone and two pairs of underwear. He has to keep a schedule and pick up Luciano, but he has to clean up first. He puts both knifes in bathroom sink, the bloody footprint tells you he was on the bathmat, washing up, washing the knifes. He's washing the knifes with the gloves on, that's why his DNA is not on the knifes, but the gloves were soaking wet and still damp hours later and still damp when the police recover them. His sweatshirt is wet from the sleeve down. It would be noticeable to people so he took it off, the same sweatshirt he told police he wasn't wearing that day, but we see on video he was wearing it and then he changes his story.” Explains Heimerman.
“He's gone for almost 35 minutes. Now Breanna's dead, Ponce Rocha goes back to work and for him life goes on. He does things at work that don't make sense. He goes out time after time the back door of the kitchen, sometimes he takes a rubber glove with him, and sometimes he takes a plastic take out bag. Remember his car is right out that back door, what is he doing?” Asks Heimerman.
Heimerman continues, “Hugo then leaves work and Ponce-Rocha knows in about five-minutes he's going to find something at the apartment. The evidence shows you when Hugo leaves, Ponce-Rocha is freaked out, he's pacing back and forth on video in kitchen. As he's pacing, he grabs a piece of cardboard, gives him an excuse to go outside and take evidence out of car and put into dumpster before cops get there. He takes out the cardboard at 1:16 p.m. and from other video we know that Ponce-Rocha walks to dumpster puts up lid, then walks away. The dumpster is important because we know what's in there later. Police try to find Breanna's cellphone because they know she was texting all morning. Police call DCI [The Department of Criminal Investigation] to help find phone, they find her phone in the cardboard dumpster behind El Tequila Salsa. The same dumpster we see Ponce-Rocha on video going to… the same dumpster he lies about to police saying he never uses.”
“Every piece of evidence that can link him to the murder he lies about. If you’re innocent why lie about the brown sweatshirt? Why lie about a car trip that took a little longer? Why lie about the dumpster? It's no coincidence that every piece of evidence he lies about is a cover up. Just like Sergio is a cover up.” Says Heimerman.
He explains, “The attack began with the iron…”
“Dr. Corliss testified that side effect of blows to head is losing consciousness. Now it's gone too far, Breanna has to die, she can identify him, so now he has to kill her. He grabbed the iron with his bare hand and left his DNA there. At some point when the stabbing starts happening the evidence tells you he grabbed a second glove from the apartment.” Says Heimerman.
At 1:00 p.m. the defense begins closing arguments, presented by defense attorney attorney Suzanne O’Neill. O’Neill states that in 22-minutes Raul Ponce-Rocha could have not kill Breanna Schneller, cleaned up and picked up Luciano.
“Blood is the second area that offers doubt. There is blood in the hall, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom there is all this blood at the murder scene but there is none on Raul. None found by Luciano, none found by state when it investigated.” Says O’Neill.
“Evidence shows there was a lot of blood at the scene. A picture shows a bloody footprint, yet no blood found on shoe. Blood is very difficult to clean off. No blood on was found on brake/gas pedal in the car.
She continues by saying “In this case there is no motive. He had no reason to kill Breanna. Why would he kill the fiance of a co-worker? Why would he kill a woman he never had a dispute with? He's going kill her just because he's caught in her house? It just doesn't make sense.”
“Breanna Schneller's hair on his sweatshirt is not that odd. He wears that shirt to work and in his car; both places where Sebastian and Hugo, who lived with Breanna have been. Hair does not establish that Raul killed her. Footwear analysis shows a print that was similar to Raul's, was tested for blood and no blood was found. The print could have been made by several thousand similar shoes. DNA testing done on her cell phone, hair dryer, and black glove, showed no DNA from Raul on a lot of pieces of evidence that if had contact with those things his DNA would have likely been on them. It’s not surprising his DNA is on the striped glove, it belonged to him, he wore it in the past. DNA testing done on the iron, showed DNA from three people. Raul, Breanna and an unidentified person. DNA testing done on the take-out bag showed DNA from five people. Raul, Breanna and three other people. DNA testing on Breanna’s fingernails showed Raul was possible contributor, but both analysts say there was a very small, minimal amount of DNA on those fingernails. Just because someone’s DNA is present, doesn't mean they are responsible for the death. Raul lied to police in interview because he was scared for his family's lives, especially his pregnant sister. Raul went to police station voluntarily on his own, willingly gave DNA, fingerprints, palm prints, consented to search of his house, he said he wanted to help, he only omitted information for fear for his family.” Says O’Neill.
Jury began deliberations at 2:10 p.m.
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