Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Man who claimed sexual assault convicted in SJ murder

Murder defendant Vincent Gallegos

Murder defendant Vincent Gallegos

A San Jose man who claimed he stabbed another man in self-defense because the victim sexually assaulted him was convicted of murder this week.

Jurors announced Wednesday, March 18 that they found Vincent Gallegos, 22, guilty of second-degree murder in the March 2013 death of Errick Wright, 27.

According to to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, Gallegos testified during the five-week trial that Wright had “sexually accosted him” in a park restroom, and Gallegos said that after Wright “attacked him with a knife,” he “wrestled the weapon away to desperately fight off his attacker.”

But prosecutors said Wright had defensive wounds and other major injuries, while Gallegos wasn’t injured in the incident.

Gallegos faces 16 years to life in prison. His sentencing is set for May 22.

In a news release, prosecutor Lindsay Walsh said, “Twelve jurors concluded that the defendant’s story – which blamed and besmirched the victim – was not true. Their verdict holds Mr. Gallegos accountable for his violent murder and gives Mr. Wright’s family some small measure of solace.”

People walking in San Jose’s Guadalupe Oak Grove Park March 6, 2013 saw Gallegos, who was “soaked” in blood, “yelling for help and saying someone had hurt his friend,” according to prosecutors. Wright, who’d been stabbed 20 times, was dead on the ground near a park restroom.

According to the DA’s office, Gallegos “had tried to tell witnesses and later police that he had simply found his bloody ‘friend’ lying” on trail in the park “and gone for help.”

But Gallegos later said that he’d stabbed Wright in self-defense.

Gallegos gave six different accounts of how he’d found Wright, prosecutors said. His backpack was found in Wright’s car, which was parked near the scene, and Wright’s car keys were located in a hole in a tree.

Jurors deliberated just five hours before returning their verdict Wednesday.

Alfonso Lopez, Gallegos’ attorney, said in an interview that the verdict was “somewhat surprising.”

Lopez held that Wright had sexually assaulted Gallegos in the bathroom, and his client, who’s straight, “should have got manslaughter at the most.”

He cited testimony from Gallegos and his therapist as evidence of the sexual assault.

“Mr. Gallegos is a good kid who was just caught up in something that was beyond something he could control,” said Lopez. “He didn’t know how to react in that situation.”

Lopez said he’ll file a motion for a new trial, because the prosecutor had withheld a witness.

He also said that during the trial, evidence was presented that Wright was “a very violent person who had just months before beat up a 17-year-old kid at the park,” and he also had been accused “several” times of domestic violence in incidents involving another man. The victim in the domestic violence cases testified during Gallegos’ trial, said Lopez.

“This case wasn’t about any homophobic acts,” he said. “It wasn’t about Mr. Wright getting stabbed because he’s gay. He sexually assaulted another person in the bathroom … It was the sexual assault that triggered the violence.”

Walsh didn’t respond to an interview request.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 19, 2015 @ 6:56 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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