Accusations of repeat violence and contradictory statements as trial start for Dr. Joaquin Arambula

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Accusations of repeat violence and contradictions in statements emerged as a misdemeanor child abuse trial got underway Tuesday for Fresno Assembly member Joaquin Arambula.

There's a simple bottom line in the criminal case against Dr. Arambula.

"This case is going to come down to a factual issue as to whether there was abuse of this child or whether the parent properly disciplined the child," said legal analyst Tony Capozzi.

But before a jury hears any evidence, attorneys will fight over what is really evidence.

And defense attorneys believe they dropped a bombshell when they asked the judge to dismiss the case.

Their motion accuses police of improperly obtaining CPS records without a court order and it includes an email from Fresno County district attorney Lisa Smittcamp to Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer in which she says she's never seen that happen before.

But the law changed in 2007 and allows police and prosecutors to "inspect" CPS records when they're working on a case.

And legal analyst Tony Capozzi says the defense might want evidence from the CPS investigation.

"I think the CPS records help the defense side of the case because there isn't a finding of any kind of neglect or abuse in this particular case," he said.

Two days after his arrest, Dr. Arambula told ABC30 he just spanked the girl on her bottom.

"I disciplined her that night," he said. "I spanked her on the bottom."

But the alleged victim had a one-inch bruise on the right side of her face at school in December. The 7-year-old told police her father slapped her on both sides of the head and his wedding ring left the mark.

The prosecutor filed a motion saying he expects the defense to say the girl's injury was either an accident or self-inflicted.

But he argues the girl and her 6-year-old sister were victims of repeated abuse, which they both described to police.

"If they can show prior abuse on other occasions that are somewhat related to this, those can be brought into evidence to show this conduct of the parents potentially losing his temper," said Capozzi.

Dr. Arambula took a leave of absence from the state assembly after prosecutors filed the case last month, but Capozzi thinks he'll be back soon.

"It's up to a jury to make a determination," he said. "Obviously if a jury finds him not guilty, I think his career is fine. Even if they find him guilty, I think under these circumstances I don't think it will affect his career."

Opening statements in the trial are expected early next week.
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