ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -- Witnesses allegedly attacked by family members of the
suspects they testified against.
It's happened twice on the
Central Coast in the past month.
Police and court officials say
the last thing they want is for witnesses to be fearful about doing the right
thing but these two attacks bring up major concerns. Fortunately, there are laws
and increased punishment in place to stop and prevent
Charity Ochoa is accused of
attacking a pregnant woman who testified against Charity's husband in court.
It happened last month on the 400 block of East New
Love in Santa Maria.
Ochoa eventually turned herself in. She faces charges of attempted murder of a fetus.
And Raheem Coleman was arrested Monday in Santa Maria
after shooting at a witness who testified against Coleman's brother.
Police say the 19-year-old flashed gang signs and talked
to the victim about testifying against his brother before shooting at him. The
witness was not hurt.
Central Coast News found
out whether law enforcement can really protect the people they need to build
their case against a suspect.
"It's a felony to intimidate or
threaten a witness or victim of a crime," say Lieutenant Norm Come of the Santa
But both suspects Raheem
Coleman and Charity Ochoa took matters into their own hands after witnesses
testified against their family members on trial.
Ochoa's husband for second degree
murder and Coleman's brother in an old court case.
Both Ochoa and Coleman were caught and arrested
"We've shown that law enforcement
takes these types of instances seriously and will do everything in our power to
successfully prosecute people in these types of instances," says Come.
Police say in extreme cases
witnesses can also be placed into a witness protection program. The D.A. has a
witness protection program available for high profile, extreme and unusual cases
where there is potential for retaliation.
"Folks don't necessarily need to
be concerned about their safety," says Come. "If they are, they need to inform
law enforcement and make us aware of any threats or any witness intimidation
that might occur."
Lt. Come says despite these two
recent attacks, retaliation against witnesses is rare.
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