An attempted murder trial that could result in a San Miguel man going to prison for life began Wednesday, even though the key witness in the case, the alleged victim and girlfriend of the defendant, is refusing to cooperate and has been found in contempt of court. [Tribune]
On Oct. 2, 2017, Dancene Cordova was shot in the neck, resulting in her being in a 10-day medically induced coma. Cordova’s boyfriend, Jim Pinedo, 38, is accused of shooting the woman, and the San Miguel man is now standing trial for attempted murder and a host of other charges related to weapons, domestic abuse and threatening a witness.
Initially, Cordova testified for the prosecution in the case. But, Cordova has since recanted much of what she testified in a preliminary hearing, and the woman said she lied to investigators.
Prosecutors argue Cordova loves her boyfriend and is protecting him and that she is stuck in a cycle of abuse.
Earlier this year, Cordova told the Tribune that she had been struggling with methamphetamine addiction in the months leading up to the shooting. On the day of the shooting, Pinedo confronted her after he again caught her using methamphetamine, she said.
An argument ensued, and she grabbed Pinedo’s rifle that he kept at home despite being a felon prohibited from possessing firearms. Cordova said she threatened to kill herself with the rifle, and Pinedo tried to take the gun away from her. While they were struggling on the floor over the gun, the rifle went off, striking her in the neck, Cordova said.
Still, Cordova was subpoenaed to testify against her boyfriend. But, Cordova told Judge Jacquelyn Duffy she refused to answer any questions.
On Wednesday morning, hours before opening statements in the case began, Duffy held Cordova in contempt of court and ordered her not to speak to other witnesses or jurors about the case. Duffy also barred Cordova from attending the trial.
In response to the contempt of court ruling, Deputy District Attorney Megan Baltierra requested a hearing to discuss possibly fining Cordova.
Baltierra said in her opening statement that Pinedo has a history of abusing Cordova, including punching her in the head, dragging her and telling her he had dug a hole for her body. The lead prosecutor on the case said she plans to call to the stand an expert witness who will explain why it is not unusual for a domestic violence victim to defend her abuser.
Prosecutors say Pinedo, who was already facing charges for physically abusing his girlfriend, became enraged that she did not do enough to get authorities to drop the charges. Pinedo then picked up a rifle he was prohibited from possessing and shot his girlfriend in the neck in an attempt to kill her, prosecutors allege.
Pinedo’s attorney Trace Milan said Cordova was coming out of a coma and on medication at the time she initially gave statements to detectives. Pinedo argued that Cordova feared she would get in legal trouble if she did not initially cooperate with investigators.
Cordova reportedly had a warrant out for her arrest at the time she was cooperative. She also has a past felony gun conviction.
Pinedo has already pleaded no contest to charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, disobeying a restraining order and making criminal threats. He pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, assault with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, threatening a witness, attempting to dissuade a witness, false imprisonment and a misdemeanor count of battery.
If convicted for all the charges and various enhancements, Pinedo faces a sentence of up to life in prison.