Less than 72 hours before Jonathan Canales goes on trial on an attempted first-degree murder and other charges stemming from the shooting of his ex-fiancee in their Mondex home in 2014, a judge ruled today that the prosecution may introduce at trial testimony about Canales’s prior acts of domestic violence, threats, intimidation and bullying. Allegations about Canales’s previous belligerence stretch over several years before the shooting.
The ruling by Circuit Judge Terence Perkins, issued in early afternoon, is a blow to Canales’s defense. His week-long trial is scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection.
Since the November 2014 shooting on Cherry Lane in Daytona North, Canales, 31, has contended that Tiffany Norman, 25 at the time of the shooting, had attempted to kill herself by shooting herself in the neck with a .22 rifle–that the incident was not connected to any prior issues, other than Norman’s alleged depression. His attorney argued that since it was not a case of domestic violence, all prior acts alleging domestic or other kinds of physical or psychological violence should be kept out of the trial.
Now, both Norman will get to testify about the violence she claims she endured in her years with Canales, as will Melissa Canales, Jonathan’s sister-in-law, who in a deposition “stated that she had personally witnessed [Canales] grab Ms. Norman by the throat and slam her into the wall of her kitchen,” according to the prosecution’s intent to introduce the evidence. “In addition to the physical violence that Ms. Canales witnessed, it is expected that Ms. Canales will testify that she had heard the defendant state that he hated Ms. Norman and that the only way to be rid of her was to kill her. Ms. Canales spoke of this in her interview. In speaking with Ms. Canales, she states that the defendant made these statements after the birth of his son, . Ms. Canales specifically recalls two separate instances in which the defendant made these statements.”
Norman appeared in court a week ago during a hearing on the state’s intent and the defense’s motions to suppress prior allegations. Now 29, it was the first time she’d been in the same room with Canales since the night of the shooting. She testified at length about her history with Canales and his seeming hatred of her, a hatred she said intensified on two occasions when she was pregnant: he did not want her to have a child. She had two children from a prior relationship. She aborted one child, seemingly under pressure from Canales, but eventually had a son. When she was pregnant with her son, she told the court, Canales threw her off a mattress by lifting it brusquely.
Canales is being defended by Garry Wood. The defense was granted part of the motions it filed to suppress elements in Canales’s past, including any mention of the abortion.
The judge previously granted the defense’s motion that there be no mention of Canales’s mental health issues and his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That includes his being judged incompetent to stand trial for about two years, when he was in treatment. There will also be no mention of the three charges of child neglect Canales faced at the time of his arrest. When deputies showed up at the trailer, they found several firearms around the house, unsecured, some of them loaded, within a few feet of the three young children. The State Attorney’s Office, however, did not pursue those three charges. Canales had also been initially charged with failing to render aid to Norman as she bled in the bathtub. Since the State Attorney’s Office did not pursue that charge, either, elements surrounding those allegations will not be introduced–at least not at trial: should Canales be found guilty, all those elements may play a part in his sentencing hearing, when standards of evidence are less strict.
The so-called “similar-fact evidence” the judge will allow enables the prosecution to build a case that Norman was the target of a pattern of abuse that culminated in the shooting. The judge conceded that the prior acts are of a different nature than the allegation that landed Canales in court, but no less relevant to that allegation.
“The facts of both instances of prior domestic violence are different from the allegations here that [Canales] shot his wife in the head/neck with a rifle,” Perkins wrote in his four-page, single-spaced order. “Despite such differences, however, such evidence would be relevant and, therefore, admissible to show, for instance, the absence of mistake or accident. Here, the [Canales]’s primary defense will be that the victim shot herself either deliberately or by accident. [Canales] denies any involvement in the shooting. Accordingly, evidence that [Canales] was violent with his wife at other times and evidence that he stated that he would have to kill her would be directly relevant and therefore admissible to show [Canales]’s plan, scheme, intent and motive to shoot his wife on this occasion. Further, such evidence may also be admissible to establish involvement in the shooting and the deliberate nature of the shooting.”
For the prosecution to prove first-degree attempted murder–a felony that would put Canales in prison for life–it would have to prove intent, meaning that he intended to shoot and kill her. The defense, however, can also argue that, in fact, Norman did not die, and Canales called 911 (the call may be played at trial), though according to his arrest report he did so only three hours after the shooting. (See the account of that night here.)
Judge Terence Perkins’s Ruling on Similar-Fact Evidence in Jonathan Canales Trial:
Rob Jr says
What is this person doing WALKING OUT OF COURT?
Concerned Citizen says
We’ve already had one DV perp get away with abuse. Let’s not make it two.
I’d like for Mr. Canales to try and choke me out and slam me around. I guarantee one of us would go to the hospital. But I digress as Mr. Canales would probably never try to attack a man.
Perpetrators of DV make me sick to my stomach. All the time I spent in Law Enforcement those calls were the worse. Rolling onto a scene and seeing the victim bruised and battered and often times not being able to do anything about it.
Men let me put this out there. There is absolutely never a reason for you to put your hands on a woman. If she pisses you off leave. If you can’t get along leave. A woman is never a threat enough to a man to beat her.
If your ego is so fragile that you feel big beating on a woman then stay single and get help. The effects of you abusing someone are long lasting and forever damaging.
This man abused this woman and then tried to kill her. I hope the jury finds him guilty and the court sentences him appropriately. No more pleas and offers. Max it out.
I could care less about Mr. Canales issues. I choose to save my sympathy for the victim in this case.
Marty Barrett says
While this article of course centers around evidence ruled admissible,it also mentions evidence ruled inadmissible. The evidence ruled inadmissible was presumably done so because it was determined to be in contravention of this defendant’s right to a fair trial. It seems that greater care should be taken by the media before such evidence is mentioned pre-trial in articles such as this. I speak nothing of the media’s right to report on such matters; I fully grant you that. However the jury pool for this case will consist of Flagler County residents, many of whom likely read your articles. Perhaps a more generic mention of “certain other evidence” was ruled inadmissible would satisfy reporting while at the same time preserving the defendants right to a fair trial. While they’ll not hear the excluded evidence at trial, it is difficult to determine what impact the juror’s prior knowledge of such evidence from articles like this might have on their deliberation. A delicate balance being sought here, but perhaps worth considering
Speak the truth says
@concerned citizen very well said I couldn’t agree with you more. My heart goes out to the victim.