Dad HONORIO PANTALEON, an ex-convict, is on trial for stabbing to death the mother of his two children. It is also pretty clear that he did so in front of his 4-year-old son, who may be called to testify (The boy told police "Daddy has stabbed Mommy with a sword").
4-year-old might testify in dad's murder trial
By PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:58 p.m.
A young child believed to have been present when his father allegedly stabbed his mother to death in their Santa Rosa apartment last year and hid her body in a toy box could be called to testify in his dad's murder trial, lawyers said Monday.
Whether Honorio Pantaleon's then-4-year-old son, Victor, will testify in open court or through closed-circuit TV will be the subject of an evidentiary hearing outside the jury's presence.
The youngster was one of two children in the Rincon Valley apartment on Mother's Day 2008 when Patricia Barrales, 25, was stabbed 68 times.
At a preliminary hearing, police testified Victor Pantaleon told detectives, “Daddy had stabbed Mommy with a sword.” Her body was later found stuffed in a 30-gallon tub in the children's closet.
The announcement that he might testify was among dozens of defense and prosecution motions filed Monday in preparation for a trial expected to begin in earnest next month. Jury selection will start Wednesday and opening statements could come the second week of November.
Pantaleon, an ex-convict who was deported three times, is charged with first-degree murder and a torture allegation that could send him to prison for life without parole if convicted. He's also charged with attempted murder and multiple enhancements. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
He has entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. Defense attorney Jeff Mitchell said Pantaleon's bizarre behavior includes claims of hearing voices and the belief that Barrales' mother put snakes in his stomach.
Jurors will first decide if he is guilty of murder and then move to a second phase to consider evidence of possible mental illness. If he is found insane, it would mean he could spend the rest of his life in a mental institution rather than a state prison.
If he is acquitted of the charges, the insanity plea would be withdrawn.
Before Judge Ken Gnoss, the two sides Monday argued motions that included whether to allow discussion of Pantaleon's criminal record or admit photos of the crime scene and a demon tattoo on Pantaleon's leg.
Mitchell said the large number of gruesome photos, which include a picture of the stab wounds to Barrales' eyes, could prejudice the jury. Prosecutors allege he killed Barrales in part because he thought she was looking at other men.
Gnoss said he would address the admissibility of the pictures on a case-by-case basis. Also, he said he would make it clear to jurors it is not a death penalty case and that Pantaleon's immigration status cannot be used in determining guilt.
A separate hearing would determine whether a letter of apology reportedly penned by Pantaleon at the encouragement of police could be admitted.
Both sides also discussed potential witnesses.
Deputy District Attorney Tashawn Sanders submitted a list that included Barrales's mother, Isabel Barrales, and the child, Victor Pantaleon. Police charge Pantaleon attempted to kill Isabel Barrales after he killed her daughter, but the gun didn't fire. The youngest child was 2-years-old at the time and will not be called as a witness.