SAN JOSE — Cain Velasquez, the former UFC champion accused of shooting a man accused of sexually abusing his son, made his first court appearance after the charges were cleared for trial earlier this month.
But Monday’s arraignment was markedly different in that Velasquez, who pleaded not guilty to the felony charges of attempted murder, assault and weapons, entered the courtroom from outside rather than from inside. be transferred from the main prison. He was granted bail and supervised his release on November 8 from a Superior Court judge at the end of his preliminary examination, after a trial court and an appeals court initially denied his path to a release on bail.
Velasquez is accused of shooting Harry Goularte Jr., 44, while traveling with his mother Patricia Goularte and stepfather Paul Bender, who allegedly drove him from Morgan Hill to San Jose on February 28 to have an ankle treated. monitor in a county office. Bender was injured in the encounter.
Three days earlier, Goularte Jr. was indicted for felony lewd and lascivious acts with a child, based on allegations that he abused Velasquez’s son at a San Martin home daycare run by his mother. Goularte Jr. was granted supervised release despite prosecutors’ objection.
On Monday, Velasquez appeared with attorney Edward Sousa to enter his plea, and Velasquez was ordered back to court Dec. 28 by Judge Daniel Nishigaya. Sousa said he was making a special appearance for Velasquez, and it wasn’t immediately clear if that meant his legal team was changing; at this point, famed attorney Mark Geragos was leading his defense.
Velasquez sought court approval to allow him to fly to Arizona in early December to compete in a wrestling event, which Sousa said fell within conditions of Velasquez’s release being able to travel for employment. Nishigaya sent the request to Judge Arthur Bocanegra’s courtroom, who approved Velasquez’s bail and GPS supervised release.
Bocanegra said he was inclined to approve the travel request, but wanted to hear from the county’s preliminary services department about the logistics of Velasquez traveling and struggling with an ankle monitor.
Assistant District Attorney Leigh Frazier, appearing in place of Aaron French, who is the lead prosecutor in the Velasquez case but was out of town, reiterated French’s past arguments about how dangerous they think Velasquez is. represented. Frazier reiterated the past position of Patricia Goularte and Bender’s attorney who said the two had to go into hiding due to Velasquez’s strong support.
Frazier said that continues to be the situation.
“The victims in this case are frankly terrified, have left their homes and are currently living in a hotel,” Frazier said.
Bocnegra acknowledged that he planned to approve the defendant’s request despite the prosecution’s objection. He referred to his Nov. 8 statements, in which he said bail and supervised release were warranted because he believed Velasquez would not jeopardize the ability to be with his family.
“I still believe he’s not a flight risk,” Bocanegra said. “I haven’t received any information that would cause the court concern…I don’t think he would pose a danger to the people of Arizona.”
Neither Velasquez nor Sousa made any comments to reporters outside the courthouse after Monday’s hearings.
A possible trial would likely begin in 2023. Velasquez faces life in prison if convicted on the charges against him. Geragos had hinted in court documents preceding the preliminary examination that he could introduce the idea that Velasquez suffered from impulse control problems resulting from brain damage, endured by his career as a mixed martial arts fighter, which includes two UFC heavyweight title belts while fighting. from San Jose.
Geragos also appears to be preparing to plead a proxy sexual assault charge against Goularte Jr. who is accused of sexually abusing Velasquez’s young son at a San Martin daycare center run by Goularte Jr.’s mother. In remarks Previous in court and in public, it sowed the seeds for a narrative in which Velasquez acted after the criminal justice system failed his family, exacerbated by the eight months Velasquez spent in prison as Goularte Jr. was free on the same terms that he himself had sought.
Check back later for updates to this story.