Update: Duran trial begins with opening argument

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Both sides presented their opening arguments in the trial of former Valencia County Deputy Patrick Duran on Tuesday morning, July 24.
The senior prosecuting attorney for the District Attorney’s Office, Robert Cates, rehashed the incident of the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2010, from eyewitness accounts of the victim, her boyfriend and one of her boyfriend’s cousins as well as two friends who were close to the scene that night. On the other hand, Duran’s defense attorney, Joshua Sanchez, told the jury they should have doubts about those accounts because all five were drinking on that night. He also said he has an expert witness who will testify in regards to the legitimacy of eyewitness accounts.
Cates presented the state’s argument first. He told the jury how the victim, Samantha Patterson, got into a fight with her boyfriend at the time, Gabriel Montano, at a party and drove after him after he left the party on foot. He recounted how Patterson had to urinate on the side of the road and how the officer had made her drop her pants in order to get out a DWI ticket.
Patterson then identified that officer as Patrick Duran during the subsequent investigation, Cates said. Then, he reminded the jury that, even though there is a sexual nature to this case, Duran is not charged with any sex crimes. He faces one charge of extortion and one charge of false imprisonment.
Patterson, Montano and Montano’s three cousins will testify in court. All of the state’s evidence against Duran is from eyewitness accounts, a fact that Sanchez told the jury to pay close attention to during his opening argument.
Sanchez told the jury the state’s eyewitnesses’ accounts all differ in one way or another from each other. Their accounts of that night have been “consistently inconsistent,” he said.
He also called into question the accuracy of the eyewitnesses’ memories. Then, Sanchez said he has an expert witness, who has experience in the field of memory and psychology, who will testify to the inaccuracy of memory in the case. Along with this, Sanchez called into question the process of identifying Duran as the suspect.
“The government (state police) did not conduct a thorough investigation of this case,” he said.
Sanchez said Duran was home with his girlfriend on the night in question and is innocent of the charges levied against him by the state.