Jury deliberations began Thursday in the trial of a former Portuguese association president accused of threatening his wife and her family.
Paul Vitorino, 32, is charged with one felony count of making terrorist threats. He is a former president of Casa dos Açores, a Portuguese community association in Hilmar, said John Garcia, his attorney.
Prosecutors believe Vitorino entered a Lander Avenue business in Hilmar where his wife worked, telling her he'd shoot and kill her, along with members of her family. Vitorino allegedly told his wife he'd begin by killing his wife's sister, who had helped her move out of his house.
At the time, Vitorino and his wife had been going through a bitter divorce, Garcia said.
Vitorino has pleaded not guilty to the charge. Garcia said his client has denied making the threats, saying the couple had been quarreling over money and property, but the threats never happened.
Garcia also claims there were no witnesses to the alleged threats. "It's a he-said, she-said situation that unfortunately has gotten out of hand," Garcia said.
Deputy District Attorney Tom Min, prosecutor in the trial, didn't comment on details of the case. Still, Min disagreed with Garcia's claim that Vitorino is being unfairly targeted. "The fact is, Mr. Vitorino was arraigned on the charge -- and here we are today," Min said.
Dressed in a black sport coat and a maroon tie, Vitorino took the stand Thursday, saying he's never owned a gun in his life. "I have nothing to hide," said Vitorino, speaking in Portuguese through an interpreter.
Asked by Min if he ever threatened to kill his wife if she dated anyone else, Vitorino denied it.
Vitorino remains free on bail. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.