Clos­ing ar­gu­ments heard in mur­der trial

Sus­pect, 50, ac­cused of killing wife af­ter two months of mar­riage

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Jim Holt Sig­nal Se­nior Staff Writer

In the last min­utes of her short life, Court­ney Arvizu was leav­ing her abu­sive hus­band. She was de­mand­ing the land­lord let her into the apart­ment for her things, and grab­bing an overnight bag of lo­tion and face wash.

But, she didn’t make it, the pros­e­cu­tor said Thurs­day sum­ming up her mur­der case against Arvizu’s hus­band.

Robert Arvizu, 50, stands ac­cused of mur­der­ing his new­ly­wed bride of just two months.

His jury trial at San Fer­nando Su­pe­rior Court be­gan a week ago.

On May 23, 2015, at the end of a fren­zied evening, punc­tu­ated with vi­o­lence, threats and al­le­ga­tions made by her hus­band of in­fi­delity, Court­ney was grab­bing her be­long­ings, col­lect­ing her dog, and plan­ning to walk across the street to her mother’s place, Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney Julie Kramer told the jury in her clos­ing re­marks Thurs­day.

“She didn’t make it across the street to her mom’s house,” Kramer said. “She was so close to get­ting out the front door.”

In­stead, the 25-yearold’s body was found just in­side the apart­ment door, her face bloody — the overnight bag found nearby con­tain­ing frag­ments of blood.

The body of Court­ney Arvizu was found in­side her hus­band’s Ne­whall apart­ment on 9th Street be­tween Ne­whall Av­enue and Chest­nut Street shortly af­ter 1:30 a.m. on May 24, 2015.

Dur­ing the trial this week, how­ever, it was re­vealed how Court­ney Arvizu ac­tu­ally died.

Homi­cide de­tec­tives had orig­i­nally be­lieved — due the in­juries on her head and face — that she had been blud­geoned to death.

She had been punched in the face and then smoth­ered to death, Kramer told ju­rors: “He hit her in the face and when he wasn’t sat­is­fied with that he smoth­ered her.

“He de­cided to kill her,” she said. “She was smoth­ered ei­ther by us­ing his big hands or by push­ing her face down on her overnight bag.

“In ei­ther event, her nose and mouth were cov­ered,” Kramer said. “She was strug­gling to breathe, then she passes out and she loses con­scious­ness.

“He had time to weigh the op­tions. He could have taken his hand off her mouth but he doesn’t do that. He con­tin­ues (smoth­er­ing her) for three to five min­utes, weigh­ing what he’s do­ing,” she said.

“Even­tu­ally, she stops breath­ing,” Kramer said. “He doesn’t call for help. He goes to sleep.”

And, the pros­e­cu­tor sought tes­ti­mony of past be­hav­iors.

Ex-girl­friends

The pros­e­cu­tor asked the jury to re­flect on the tes­ti­mony pre­sented dur­ing the trial by two of Robert Arvizu’s ex-girl­friends.

“So what do Erika S., Danette R. and Court­ney have in com­mon?” she asked.

“They were all younger than the de­fen­dant. They were all ac­cused of cheat­ing. They were all stran­gled. All suf­fered phys­i­cal abuse. “Why is Court­ney dif­fer­ent?” An­swer­ing her own ques­tion, Kramer said: “Erick S. and Danette R. sur­vived.”

Mar­riage of vi­o­lence

“Her mar­riage to the de­fen­dant started with vi­o­lence and ended with vi­o­lence,” Kramer said, re­fer­ring to a March 2015 chok­ing in­ci­dent in Las Ve­gas.

It hap­pened the day af­ter they were mar­ried.

About Court­ney’s death, Kramer said: “What hap­pened to her was not the nor­mal re­ac­tion of a jeal­ous hus­band. This was pre­med­i­tated, based on a pat­tern of abuse to­wards women.”

Kramer summed up the tes­ti­mony of wit­nesses who in­ter­acted with Court­ney and Robert Arvizu on the evening of May 23, 2015 – her death.

Things turned sour for the cou­ple that night in 2015 at an out­door bar­be­cue party dur­ing which the de­fen­dant ac­cused his wife of flirt­ing with an­other man, call­ing her “a ly­ing cheat­ing whore” in front of party guests.

Party guests sep­a­rated the two - Robert Arvizu leav­ing the party with an Eric Shapiro, Court­ney leav­ing on her own.

Kramer re­capped tes­ti­mony of neigh­bors who en­coun­tered each of them sep­a­rately later that same night as they each re­turned sep­a­rately to Robert Arvizu’s apart­ment on 9th Street.

Kramer’s re­cap of events, cul­mi­nated with the tes­ti­mony of Maria Flores, the tenant who lives in the apart­ment di­rectly un­der the Arvizu apart­ment who said she heard a loud thump at 10:01 p.m. that night.

“She was hear­ing Court­ney’s body be­ing banged onto the floor,” Kramer told ju­rors.

When Kramer wrapped up her case, ju­rors were given a 15 minute break, then called back into the court­room to hear clos­ing ar­gu­ments pre­sented by Arvizu’s lawyer C. Ed­ward Mack.

De­fense case

“The fact that Court­ney Arvizu is no longer with us touches a lot of peo­ple deeply, as I’m sure it touches you,” he told the jury.

Be­fore he be­gan chal­leng­ing the tes­ti­mony of pros­e­cu­tion wit­nesses, Mack showed ju­rors the pro­jected im­age of an ice­berg which he called Kramer’s “moun­tain of ev­i­dence.”

Mack ques­tioned the cir­cum­stances of Court­ney be­ing found dead by Santa Clarita Val­ley Sher­iff’s Sta­tion deputies, who kicked down the door to the apart­ment when a flash­light beam cast through a par­tially open chain-con­nected door re­vealed Court­ney’s legs.

“No­body knows what hap­pened in­side that apart­ment,” Mack said. “She (Kramer) can spec­u­late. But, the bot­tom line is that no­body knows.

“He hit her. She fell on the floor and he fell on top of her,” Mack said. “It could have hap­pened. We don’t know.”

Tes­ti­mony ques­tioned

Mack picked holes in the tes­ti­mony of each pros­e­cu­tion wit­ness, con­cen­trat­ing on his client’s ex-girl­friends.

“You have to take into ac­count her con­vic­tion for steal­ing,” he said of wit­ness Erika S. “Is this the type of per­son who would tell a lie?

“I have a char­ac­ter is­sue with Danette,” he said, chal­leng­ing her tes­ti­mony re­call­ing in­ci­dents of phys­i­cal abuse - in one case, be­ing pushed against a counter and threat­ened with a metal bar and on an­other oc­ca­sion be­ing stran­gled to the point un­con­scious­ness.

Mack urged the jury to weigh her tes­ti­mony of be­ing ter­ri­fied against her tes­ti­mony of re­turn­ing to her at­tacker re­peat­edly.

“Now she’s free and clear,” Mack said, re­cap­ping one in­ci­dent of abuse. “She goes back to him again. He says he’s go­ing to kill him­self. You think some­one whose been told they’re go­ing to kill you - that you’re so fear­ful he’s go­ing to kill you and your fam­ily - would not go (back).

“It doesn’t add up. If he kills him­self you won’t have that (threat­en­ing) is­sue any­more. Why did you do it again?” Mack said, re­fer­ring to Danette go­ing back to Arvizu. “That’s a hard sell,” he said. Mack was ex­pected to con­tinue de­liv­er­ing his clos­ing re­marks Fri­day morn­ing.

Sig­nal file photo A Santa Clarita Val­ley Sher­iff’s Sta­tion deputy cor­dons off an al­ley by an apart­ment where Court­ney Arvizu’s body was found in May 2015.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.