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Tulare Co DA forced to drop some cases involving fallen CHP officer

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Tulare County District Attorney was forced to drop some of the cases involving fallen CHP Officer Jesus Magdaleno. He and his brother in law, Felix Brandon Cruz, were killed in Las Vegas in August after a car- jacking and crash.

The CHP says Magdaleno was somehow involved in more than 60 cases. Ten of those were dropped. The officers are now trying to figure out whether they can be re-filed.

Not a day goes by where Officer Jesus Magdaleno's name is not mentioned at the Visalia CHP office. There are stories, discussions, and memories. Scott Harris, Visalia CHP Public Information Officer said, "it keeps things fresh, you know, we wish he was here his name is still on his locker and it will stay there until ultimately someone needs that locker"

Magdaleno was at his own Bachelor Party in Las Vegas when his truck was stolen. He tried to stop it. He and his brother in law were thrown from the truck when the suspect crashed. The officers in Visalia knew that at some point, the cases that Magdaleno had once handled, and the arrests he once made had to be addressed.

"He was very good at what he did and obviously from our minds, we know they were good and the information in the reports were solid and we would like to see the report stand by itself but that's not how the system works," Harris said.

All of his cases were eventually filed with the District Attorney's Office. Some involve other officers how partnered with Magdaleno. But in a number of situations, he was working alone, which makes him the prosecution's only witness.

"Without his testimony in the courtroom there's nothing left for us to present in those situations." Daniel Underwood, the Assistant District Attorney said.

Underwood said it's rare, but it happens. No witness, no testimony, no case.

"We mourn the loss at the same time from the business aspect and we have to look at the cases and see if they're still viable to bring into court," Underwood said.

The 10 cases that were kicked back to the CHP are mainly DUI's. They're not being re-evaluated. Officers are looking at various pieces of evidence to determine whether another officer could testify to Magdaleno's report, but the reality is, no one really knows what he once saw, or heard.

"He did his job and he took someone who was a danger to the public and got them off the streets and that for us is the most important part- what happens after we deal with as best we can," Harris said.

James Robert Montgomery is accused of killing Magdaleno and Cruz. He's still in custody and will face a judge in Nevada in December.

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Tags:
visalia, tulare county, crimetracker, carjacking, local, stephanie stone
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