The Yolo County Superior Courthouse in Woodland became the stage of intense anticipation as the 12 jurors who will ultimately determine the fate of Carlos Dominguez, an accused Davis killer, were carefully selected. In a high-stakes trial, these jurors will be tasked with deciding whether Dominguez is competent to stand trial for the murder of Davis resident David Breaux and UC Davis student Karim Abou Najm, as well as the attempted murder of Kimberlee Guillory.
Yolo County Superior Court Judge Samuel McAdam explained that the jury has a crucial responsibility ahead. They must assess whether Dominguez suffers from a mental condition, whether he can comprehend the proceedings, and if he is capable of assisting his defense attorney. The burden of proof lies with the defense, who will argue that Dominguez is afflicted with schizophrenia. On the other hand, the prosecution contends that Dominguez possesses the mental capacity to engage in rational discussions.
The courtroom crackled with tension as attorneys debated over the admissibility of Dominguez’s previous admissions of guilt. Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Frits van der Hoek confidently stated that multiple instances of Dominguez confessing to the crimes would be presented, including video footage of his confession to officers from the Davis Police Department.
However, Dominguez’s defense attorney, Daniel Hutchinson, challenged the interpretation of these admissions, highlighting that the accused often responded with one-word answers during the interviews. Hutchinson emphasized that the interviews lacked the explicit statement of guilt, urging clarity on this matter.
Prosecutors argued for the inclusion of Dominguez’s statements from a June hearing, during which he expressed both remorse and guilt: “Your honor, I want to apologize and … I want to … say I’m guilty and forgive me.” These statements further deepened the intrigue surrounding the competency trial.
Adding another twist, Hutchinson revealed that his client had recently been hospitalized and placed on a 5150 hold, a measure designed for individuals undergoing a mental health crisis and deemed to pose a risk to themselves or others.
The day in court progressed with an arduous selection process, drilling potential jurors with extensive questioning until finally settling on 12 jurors and four alternates—a group set to return for jury instructions and opening statements the next day. Originally estimated to last three days, the trial’s complexity now promises to stretch to 7 or 8 days, with the potential for over 20 witnesses to be called upon.
As the trial unfolds throughout the week, anticipation and suspense will grip the courtroom. The jurors will then enjoy a break before returning to deliberate upon the evidence presented, ultimately reaching a decision that will determine the path forward for Carlos Dominguez.