On Friday, a judge took under submission a motion filed by a convicted former San Diego police officer seeking a new trial because handwritten notes from his main accuser were not turned over to the defense.
Anthony Arevalos, an 18-year veteran, was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison for sexually assaulting and harassing women during traffic stops in the Gaslamp District.
Prosecutors said Arevalos would ask women for sexual favors during mostly drunk driving stops.
Arevalos was convicted in November 2011 of felony and misdemeanor charges involving five women, including multiple counts of sexual battery by restraint, asking for a bribe and assault and battery by a police officer. He was acquitted of other serious charges involving two other women.
The 4th District Court of Appeal ordered a hearing before Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser to determine whether Arevalos should get a new trial because notes written by "Jane Doe" right after her encounter with the defendant were not turned over to the defense at trial.
The notes surfaced during a federal lawsuit the woman has filed against the city of San Diego.
Nowhere in the handwritten notes does she say that Arevalos actually touched her genitalia, the defendant's appellate attorney, Pat Ford, argued before Fraser.
Arevalos' trial attorney, Gretchen von Helms, testified that the notes would have been key in defending Arevalos, since he did not admitting touching Jane Doe's genitalia during a "pretext" call set up by police.
"He doesn't say I touched it," von Helms testified. "These notes would have given me ammunition. This is very powerful. I'm supposed to have it. It would be huge that he didn't touch her."
Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle argued that the notes not being produced was not enough to warrant a new trial for Arevalos. The prosecutor noted that Jane Doe didn't initially tell her boyfriend or others about being touched by Arevalos, but jurors still found her testimony credible.
Doyle said mistakes are often made by both sides at trial, many of them resulting in harmless error.
"He (Arevalos) was entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect one," Doyle told the judge.
The prosecutor said having Jane Doe's notes wouldn't have made a difference in the jury verdict.
Fraser said he expects to issue a written ruling in a week or two.
—City News Service