A 2021 homicide case that was tried by then-Assistant District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, which she cited as a final straw in her disagreements with former boss Chesa Boudin, has come back to haunt Jenkins again.
The very complicated case of Daniel Gudino, who killed his mother on Easter morning 2020 under an apparent psychotic delusion that she was a cyborg, was a source of great frustration to Jenkins when she was a junior prosecutor. It was the last case she tried while working in Boudin's DA's office, before defecting and joining the campaign to get him recalled — a job for which she was paid handsomely by the campaign's backers.
Gudino, 29 at the time, was convicted of second-degree murder, but the jury deadlocked 7-5 (7 in favor) on whether to declare Gudino legally insane — something that Boudin chose not to fight, resulting in the judge declaring him not guilty by reason of insanity. Gudino's biological father had supported the insanity plea, but Gudino's stepfather had opposed it, and Jenkins said she sided with him, later saying in an interview, "You simply can’t ignore the victims in a case."
Jenkins would later say that the deal with the judge, which landed Gudino in a state mental hospital, was negotiated behind her back by Boudin, and this clearly infuriated her. She brought it up in multiple interviews in the fall of 2021, when she was clearly, in retrospect, looking to cast herself as a potential replacement for Boudin.
Jenkins had been accused of prosecutorial misconduct in the case, and after Gudino's public defender sought an appeal — which was handled by an appeals-court-appointed attorney — the court has returned a decision that they will not reverse Gudino's conviction, but they say that Jenkins is guilty of misconduct. As Mission Local reports, the court found that Jenkins "impugned the integrity of the defense and improperly made reference to excluded pieces of evidence" during her closing arguments. Jenkins reportedly said in court that the public defender did not "seek justice or to tell the truth about what happened" in the case, and was only out to get her client acquitted.
Jenkins has issued a statement in response saying only, "I recognize that defense counsel plays an important role in our criminal justice system and zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients is essential to a well-functioning criminal justice system."
That public defender, Ilona Solomon Yañez, published a piece in the Davis Vanguard back in 2021 countering some of Jenkins's claims about the case, and suggesting that no one should believe she is a progressive prosecutor.
"After the guilt stage of the trial, she should have agreed to a finding of insanity which would have allowed Mr. Gudino to go to a mental hospital, but for reasons still unclear to me, she refused," Yañez wrote. And she blasted the Chronicle's Heather Knight for calling Jenkins a progressive, because "she ignores that Jenkins tried to send a mentally insane person to prison."
Solomon contends that even Gudino's family recognized that he was "floridly psychotic" at the time of the murder, and, "His mental health issues are so profound that, during his trial, he met the elements of an insanity defense, which is a rarity in our legal system."
Mission Local previously reported on another alleged case of misconduct by Jenkins, in which, days before she quit Boudin's office, she reportedly shared the rap sheet of defendant Troy McAllister — a repeat offender who was accused in a double vehicular homicide that occurred on December 31, 2020 — with a colleague. According to a legal expert, sharing such information among lawyers not connected to the case also constitutes misconduct.
It remains to be seen what the consequence of the appeals court decision will be, as the judges said the misconduct may be punishable under state law.
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