The defense attorney for a San Jose police officer suspected of fondling a teenager in 2008 said Monday his client's professional record indicates he has not committed the crime of which he is being accused.
Officer Julio Morales, 42, has been charged with one felony count of false imprisonment and one felony count of sexual battery in connection with an incident on the evening of Dec. 3, 2008, on Keyes Street when he stopped a woman who was 18 years old at the time and searched her. Prosecutors allege the search was sexual in nature and that Morales touched the young woman's vagina and groped her breasts.
Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Tuesday.
In his closing statement in Santa Clara County Superior Court, prosecutor Ray Mendoza said Morales used his position of trust and authority for his own sexual gratification. He said Morales used the woman's status as a young, undocumented immigrant from Mexico to his advantage.
Defense attorney Craig Brown, however, argued Morales was instilled with a code of honor and ethics while serving in the Marine Corps.
"He's not a good-people-do-bad-things example," Brown said. "He's no Tiger Woods or John Edwards or anyone else you read about on the Internet or at the supermarket."
Brown said the search was consensual and that Morales had valid reason to conduct the search because she was walking in a high-crime area and she stared at his patrol car as he drove past her. He said she simultaneously reached into her sweatshirt pocket, causing Morales to suspect she might have been hiding a weapon.
Mendoza countered that the woman had her hands in her sweatshirt pocket because it was a cold night. He said prior to the search, Morales asked her questions that went beyond police protocol, like where she went to school, and whether she had a boyfriend or a cell phone. After the search, Morales offered her a ride home, to which she consented because he intimidated her, Mendoza said.
Morales further violated his police duties by failing to report the search or the ride home, Mendoza said.
Mendoza said Morales' assertion that he could not operate the computer in his patrol car was a lie considering he had a degree in engineering and was a veteran police officer.
"We all know people do dumb things for sex all the time, things out of character," Mendoza said. "It was out of character what he did for those 24 minutes."
In response, Brown stated that it is common for officers to oftentimes forego calling in their location or writing a report when the incident appears to be inconsequential.
Reading statements by some of Morales' former supervisors, Brown said Morales has built a trustworthy and professional reputation that defies the accusations facing him.
Brown said in contrast not much was revealed about the woman throughout the trial and that her testimony was inconsistent and inherently unreliable.
He said there is no evidence to indicate Morales' decision to stop and search the woman was motivated by sexual desires.
Morales faces a maximum of three years and eight months in state prison if he is convicted.