Category: Our Attorneys

In the Jury Room: State v. Trujillo

On Feb. 1, 2003, 20-year-old Laura Trujillo brought the badly beaten body of her 2-year-old daughter, Alize, to the emergency room, where the toddler was then pronounced dead. The coroner said that it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen.

Soon after, Trujillo, who is confined to a wheelchair, was interrogated by the police. She initially told the police Alize’s injuries might have been a result of a fall the day before. The police were suspicious and began to ask about Trujillo’s live-in boyfriend of eight months, Randy Ramirez.

The detectives were able to prove that Ramirez was at home the night of Alize’s death. When he was brought in for interrogation, he eventually confessed to beating the 2-year-old.

However, Helen Morgan, the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, believed Trujillo was also responsible for her child’s death.

“There is no question that these people were co-complicitors in abusing, and denying help to this child, that naturally resulted in her death,” she said.

After Ramirez’s confession, police charged both Ramirez and Trujillo with child abuse resulting in death, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of 48 years.

Scott Reisch, Trujillo’s court-appointed lawyer, argued that Trujillo was not equally responsible for Alize’s death.

“You know, she’s probably not going to get any type of mother-of-the-year awards. But I think that she tried to do her best with the situation she had,” he said.

Before the trial began, the defense learned that Ramirez had agreed to testify against Trujillo in return for a lighter sentence. Alize’s autopsy listed two separate causes of death — ruptured internal organs and a fractured skull.

Ramirez confessed to punching Alize in the stomach, but said he did not cause her head injuries. Morgan believed that Trujillo had inflicted the blows to Alize’s head.

Reisch’s defense strategy was to argue that Ramirez alone was responsible for all the injuries and that Trujillo was powerless to stop him. Trujillo’s version of what happened on the night of Alize’s death was the basis for his case.

“Randy was awake in the bedroom,” she said, “and I told him to watch Alize, and I took my pills, and I went to sleep. And when I woke up the next morning, she was laying on the floor, and I didn’t see her stomach moving. And I seen that her lips were purple. And that’s when I woke Randy up and told him that Alize wasn’t breathing.”

According to the couple’s friends and family, Ramirez and Trujillo had a volatile relationship. In fact, three months before Alize’s death, Trujillo told Ramirez she was leaving him for good. That night, Trujillo was a victim of a shooting that left her paralyzed from the waist down.

The police initially questioned Ramirez, but he was not charged. Although Trujillo believed that Ramirez had nothing to do with the shooting, Reisch did not think it was a coincidence.

“I think that she was so mesmerized by this guy, in a sense, that she didn’t want to believe that he could do anything wrong,” he said.

Even though authorities had told Trujillo that Ramirez might be physically abusing Alize, Trujillo moved back in with him after the shooting. The prosecutor believed that Trujillo’s love for Ramirez may have contributed to Alize’s death.

“She still loves the guy,” said Morgan. “She’s sending him letters in jail, saying she loves him. I think it’s a very unhealthy relationship on both ends, and Alize was caught in the middle. This is a child [who] had repeated episodes of physical abuse that had been on multiple occasions.”

Trial Begins

Mychael Dave, Morgan’s co-counsel, began his opening statement by describing the beating that Alize suffered on the night that she died: “On Feb. 1, 2003, Alize was beaten to death. She was beaten from the very top of her head to the very bottom of her feet. She was beaten to death by the defendant as well as by the defendant’s boyfriend, Randy Ramirez.”

Reisch quoted some of Ramirez’s confession for the jury: “And Randy Ramirez is going to come in here, and he’s going to tell you, ‘I just lost it, and I punched Alize so hard that I ruptured her internal organs, and then I tried to hide it.’ ”

The prosecution’s witness list included medical experts, called to testify about the injuries Alize had sustained on the night of her death and older injures also allegedly caused by abuse.

One of the prosecution’s main witnesses was Dr. Katherine Wells, an expert in child abuse. Wells’ theory was that Alize’s death was a culmination of months of abuse.

Establishing a history of abuse was central to the prosecution’s case. According to Colorado law, even if Trujillo’s story about being asleep is true, she could still be charged in her daughter’s death if she knew that Ramirez was abusing Alize and did nothing to protect her.

The state’s most important witness was Trujillo’s ex-boyfriend, Randy Ramirez.

Ramirez told the jury that on the fatal day, he had been smoking marijuana and fighting with Trujillo about other women. He admitted striking Alize hard in the stomach. He also said that later that night, he woke up and heard some strange sounds which he described as thumps. Although by his own account Ramirez did not see what was causing the sounds, the state wanted the jury to believe that those thumps were from Trujillo banging Alize’s head on the floor.

On cross-examination by the defense, Ramirez said that after he had struck Alize, he gave her a bath, and that she several times struck her head on the bathtub.

When the defense began its case, Reisch was planning to call Trujillo as his main witness, but because he believed that Trujillo was still in denial about what Ramirez had done to her child, he instead decided to call Dr. Ann Seig, a psychiatrist who interviewed Trujillo before the trial, to testify on her behalf.

Seig told the court abuse Trujillo had received as a child may have affected her relationship with Ramirez.

“One of the hallmarks of an abusive, neglectful childhood is the ability to tolerate unbelievable abuse from a partner in order to delay abandonment, to continue in the seeming safety and security of a relationship that is known to that person,” Seig testified.

In her closing argument, prosecutor Morgan tried to emphasize to the jury that in not protecting Alize from Ramirez, Trujillo was responsible for her death: “Members of the jury, after the last week you have seen that this defendant failed Alize in every manner possible. The testimony from the stand, the evidence, is replete with warning signal after warning signal that she chose to ignore.”

Reisch closed the defense’s case by attempting to focus the jury’s attention on the actions of Randy Ramirez: “Randy Ramirez killed Alize Reigart. You do not want to convict an innocent person. She is not criminally responsible for the death of Alize.”

Jury Deliberates

The jurors quickly agreed that Trujillo had not herself inflicted the fatal blows to Alize’s body or head.

After approximately 10 ½ hours of tense deliberations, however, the jurors concluded that Trujillo had known and not tried to prevent some of the earlier abuse Alize endured, such as Ramirez flicking her ears, but that she had not been aware of the serious abuse that was taking place.

Trujillo was found “guilty of child abuse recklessly in that her actions caused any injury other than serious bodily injury to the child” — a class one misdemeanor. Trujillo received the maximum sentence of two years, which she is now serving in the Denver County Jail. Ramirez is serving a sentence of 30 years in prison.

Article from ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=96691&page=1

Compassionate Colorado Personal Injury Attorneys

 Reisch Law Firm DenverIf you or someone you love is injured in a car accident in Westminster, Arvada, Northglenn, Denver, or anywhere in the State of Colorado, you are not alone. The experienced Colorado car accident lawyers at Reisch Law Firm can help you obtain the compensation you need. Call the Colorado injury lawyers at Reisch Law Firm today at 1-303-291-0555 for a Free Consultation. 

 

 

The personal injury attorneys at Reisch Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Westminster, Arvada, Boulder, Commerce City, Northglenn, Broomfield, Berkley, Wheat Ridge, Brighton, Thornton, Denver, Lakewood, and throughout the State of Colorado.

Colorado Woman Trapped in Car for 5 Days—Found Alive!

A Colorado woman has been found alive, after being trapped in her car for at least 5 days. Kristin Hopkins, a single mom of four, was found upside down in her Chevrolet Malibu, after it skidded off a winding mountain road and crashed near Fairplay, Colorado five days earlier. The person who found Hopkins’ car reported that there was a dead body inside; however, when first responders arrived, Hopkins put her hand up against the window and signaled to everyone that she was indeed alive. Once rescued, Hopkins was taken to a nearby hospital where she was treated for serious internal and external injuries, including having both of her feet amputated.

 

Like Kristin Hopkins, every year, thousands of people are involved in devastating and life changing car accidents. The loss of limbs, crushed bones, disfiguration, and brain damage are all common and life-threatening injuries that can occur in the blink of an eye because of a severe accident. The road to recovery can be long and grueling, and physical and occupational therapy is often needed for months and even years as injury victims attempt to recover. Sadly, many accident victims will never recover fully from their injuries—leading to a lifetime of pain, suffering, and disability.

 

 Car accidents don’t always involve colliding with another car, however, and often times, a single-car accident can occur. When this happens, it is natural for police officials, insurance companies, and even accident victims to assume that there is no one to blame for the accident—or worse, that the driver of the car is to blame. This isn’t necessarily the case. There may be a third party responsible for your accident and your injuries. Some of the most common reasons why a single-car accident could occur, include:

 

  • Faulty or defective car parts, such as brakes failing or a defective steering wheel, or airbag system;

  • Poorly maintained roads;

  • Bushes or trees blocking traffic signs or signals;

  • Inadequate shoulder or guardrail;

  • A hit and run accident

 

No matter what the reasoning for your car accident, it is always best to speak with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Insurance companies are often reluctant to pay accident victims the maximum compensation—even when they are entitled to it. As a result, they often look to reach settlements quickly and easily; the less money they have to pay the better. Unfortunately, this is usually only a fraction of what accident victims need to recover from serious injuries.

 

 

Compassionate Colorado Personal Injury Attorneys

 Reisch Law Firm DenverIf you or someone you love is injured in a car accident in Westminster, Arvada, Northglenn, Denver, or anywhere in the State of Colorado, you are not alone. The experienced Colorado car accident lawyers at Reisch Law Firm can help you obtain the compensation you need. Call the Colorado injury lawyers at Reisch Law Firm today at 1-303-291-0555 for a Free Consultation.

 

 

The personal injury attorneys at Reisch Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Westminster, Arvada, Boulder, Commerce City, Northglenn, Broomfield, Berkley, Wheat Ridge, Brighton, Thornton, Denver, Lakewood, and throughout the State of Colorado.

 

 

Shopping Cart Injuries on the Rise

 

The study was conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and they found that there has been a significant rise in shopping cart injuries between 1990 and 2011—even though numerous shopping cart safety standards were implemented in 2004.

How did those injuries occur? 70.4% of the injured children fell from the shopping cart. Shopping cart collisions, tip overs, and limb entrapment also accounted for a large number of injuries each year. Of those children that were injured, an astonishing 78% sustained a head injury of some kind.

 

 

Even though safety standards have improved, shopping cart injuries are rising. This suggests the need for further safety standards to prevent tip overs and falls from occurring. Yet there is no need to wait for regulations and safety standards to be implemented. Parents can ensure their child’s safety by following these simple tips:

 

 

  • Always buckle or secure your child in the shopping cart. If the buckle is broken, get a new cart. Be sure your child is snuggly secured in the straps, much like a car seat.

  • Never allow your child to roam free in the basket of the shopping cart.

  • If possible, have your child sit in the seat that is closest to the ground. There are numerous ones now that come in car and rocket ship shapes and seat the child on ground level.

  • NEVER place an infant seat carrier on the top of the shopping cart. They are not meant to go there and infants have fallen and died from being placed on the top of the shopping cart.

  • If your child is too little to sit in the shopping cart seat properly, consider placing your infant in a front or back pack carrier or leave your child home with another adult if possible.

  • When you bring your shopping cart to the car, secure your children in their car seats before you remove the food from the grocery cart. This way, runaway-shopping carts won’t be running away with your child.

Compassionate Colorado Personal Injury Attorneys

 Reisch Law Firm DenverIf you or someone you love is injured in a car accident in Westminster, Arvada, Northglenn, Denver, or anywhere in the State of Colorado, you are not alone. The experienced Colorado car accident lawyers at Reisch Law Firm can help you obtain the compensation you need. Call the Colorado injury lawyers at Reisch Law Firm today at 1-303-291-0555 for a Free Consultation. 

 

 

The personal injury attorneys at Reisch Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Westminster, Arvada, Boulder, Commerce City, Northglenn, Broomfield, Berkley, Wheat Ridge, Brighton, Thornton, Denver, Lakewood, and throughout the State of Colorado.

 

Reisch Law Firm Denver

R. Scott Reisch

Mr. Reisch enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1988. He served as a scout/observer for artillery units, achieving the rank of Sergeant while completing his education. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1996. After completing the Naval Justice School, he was stationed at the Eastern Recruiting District, Parris Island, South Carolina. While there, he served as a military prosecutor and defense counsel, representing Marines accused of crimes. Mr. Reisch achieved the rank of Major in the US Marine Corps Reserves.

Upon leaving active duty, Mr. Reisch founded The Reisch Law Firm, LLC, which has focused on representing individuals and corporations accused of criminal offenses in Colorado and Federal Courts across the country. Mr. Reisch has also undertaken personal injury, air disaster litigation and FAA enforcement cases on a selective basis.

Mr. Reisch has extensive experience in criminal and litigation matters. He has tried over 100 criminal trials in municipal, state and federal courts and won acquittals for his clients in the vast majority of those cases, representing defendants in numerous high-profile cases alleging sexual assault, first-degree murder and other serious crimes. Mr. Reisch was featured in an ABC News one hour prime-time documentary about a high-profile child abuse case.

In addition to defending clients in jury trials, Mr. Reisch has secured favorable resolutions in thousands of cases without going to trial. Prosecutors know they will be facing an experienced and skilled trial attorney with a record of success in jury trials, and they are often willing to accept a negotiated outcome that favors our client rather than risk a trial by jury.

Mr. Reisch has also successfully challenged adverse trial court decisions at the appellate level and has several published and unpublished opinions.

Mr. Reisch has taught as an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State College, teaching future police officers. He has taught Constitutional Law, Evidence, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice classes. He has recently been accepted as an expert in the area of criminal law by a Jefferson County District Court judge, based upon his experience and qualifications in criminal defense, for a case in which he was retained an an expert.

Mr. Reisch is an active pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings. He flies his aircraft to courts across Colorado and the country to represent clients.

Shannon D. Roy

Ms. Roy was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and received her Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Ms. Roy then moved to California where she received her Juris Doctorate from the University of La Verne, College of Law. Upon graduating from law school Ms. Roy moved to Denver Colorado where she focused her practice of law to the area of Criminal Defense.

Over the past couple years Ms. Roy has handled hundreds of criminal cases including but not limited to DUI/DWAIs, Child Abuse, Second and Third Degree Assaults, Drugs, Probation Violations, Menacing, Prostitution, Domestic Violence, Harassment, Theft, Burglary, Eluding, Sex Assaults, Fraud, and COCCA cases. Ms. Roy has extensive trial practice and has successfully litigated a variety of cases ranging from misdemeanor assaults to felony sex assault cases. Ms. Roy has also resolved hundreds of cases prior to trial and has had numerous cases dismissed, including cases such as Domestic Violence Assault and Juvenile Sex Assault on a Child Case.

Ms. Roy is a current member of the Denver Bar Association, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association.  Ms. Roy is licensed to practice in Colorado and The United States District Court for the District of Colorado.