Judge backs ruling in Waterford screwdriver stabbing

rahumada@modbee.comMay 21, 2013 

— A judge on Tuesday refused to overturn a ruling that ordered a defendant to stand trial charged with second-degree murder on accusations he stabbed a man with a small screwdriver during a fight in Waterford.

Juan Carrizales, 28, is accused of stabbing to death 23-year-old James Mandall when the two fought Oct. 9, 2011, at the Waterford Garden Apartments on Dorsey Street.

Donnell Snipes, Carrizales' defense attorney, argued Tuesday that evidence in his client's January preliminary hearing didn't demonstrate implied malice. He told the judge the evidence did not show his client knew that using the small screwdriver would endanger Mandall's life.

"We believe it's a case of self-defense, your honor," Snipes told Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Nancy Ashley.

Testimony in the preliminary hearing before Judge John Freeland revealed that the two men fought over a vehicle burglary. Carrizales' then-girlfriend accused Mandall of stealing things from her parked vehicle, and the defendant confronted Mandall about it.

Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees has said in court that Carrizales had a screwdriver, used to fix eyeglasses, with the sharp end pointing out of his fist. The prosecutor argued that Carrizales punched Mandall in his chest three times; one puncture wound to his heart proved fatal.

The defense attorney has argued that Mandall and his friends were gang members, and his client feared Mandall's gang ties.

Freeland said Mandall's gang membership was not enough to reduce the charge, since there was no evidence that Mandall had been violent before that night.

Snipes was seeking at least a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter, indicating that Carrizales acted with imperfect self-

defense. The defense attorney has argued that Mandall "sucker-punched" his client twice before he defended himself with the screwdriver.

The motion to overturn Freeland's ruling was heard by Ashley. She said Tuesday that Freeland's decision was thorough and appropriate, and she denied the motion.

Carrizales, still in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail, is scheduled to return to Freeland's courtroom today to schedule his trial.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394.

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