MERCED - A heartless robber bent on revenge or the target of a set-up by
a drug-addled ex-girlfriend?
Those opposing viewpoints were offered by attorneys Wednesday during closing
arguments in the trial of Joey Cardoza, who’s accused of committing
a brutal April 27 home invasion at the home of a 56-year-old Atwater woman.
If convicted, Cardoza faces 20 years in prison. Jurors will continue deliberating today.
The prosecution’s key witness in the case is Cardoza’s ex-girlfriend,
Kimberly Grace, who is suspected of participating in the robbery at the
Fay Drive home. She testified against Cardoza in exchange for a reduced
Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall said Cardoza previously had a four-year
relationship with the victim’s daughter. He spent three years in
prison for burglarizing the same woman’s home.
The night of the robbery, Wall said Cardoza and Grace walked through a
side gate and entered the home. Cardoza found the victim using the bathroom,
pulled her off the toilet and slammed her into the bathroom mirror. He
then began punching her, knocking out a tooth and fracturing her eye socket.
“She must have wondered whether she’d come out of this experience
with her life,” Wall said.
High on meth, the robbers tied the victim’s hands with duct tape.
The victim testified that Grace told her, “Don’t move, or
I’ll cut your f—— throat.”
The couple loaded the victim’s Buick with jewelry, electronics and
other items and drove away. Atwater police later traced the robbery back
to Grace. Police obtained a photo of her using the victim’s debit
card at the CitiBank at M Street and Collins Drive. Police also obtained
a photo of Cardoza using the ATM at Compass Bank in Atwater.
The two were arrested at Cardoza’s parents’ home, where they’d
been staying. Grace later gave a full confession.
Wall said a witness testified that Cardoza had bragged to her about the
robbery, saying “that’s what (the victim) gets” for
sending him to prison. Wall said the defendant sent letters to Grace in
which he wrote that he was upset about her cooperation with police. “If
you wouldn’t have said anything, we could have got out of this easy,”
Wall said the victim had suspected Cardoza was behind the crime and brought
up his name after police responded to the scene. “In order for you
to believe Cardoza, every witness must be lying,” Wall argued.
Although some jurors began shaking their heads as Wall described the attack,
Jeffrey Tenenbaum reminded them to remain objective, despite the brutality of the attack.
“You have to separate that sympathy from the woman that’s
sitting here in court,” Tenenbaum said.
Tenenbaum pointed out there was little physical evidence connecting his
client to the crime. Even though his client was said to be inside the
home for 30 minutes, Tenenbaum said there was no DNA, hair or other evidence.
Tenenbaum also said it was Grace who thought up the robbery after finding
some of Cardoza’s court papers from his previous burglary of the
victim. But Tenenbaum said another man – not Cardoza – was
with Grace during the robbery and that Cardoza wanted nothing to do with
it. “Kimberly Grace said, ‘Let’s do something,’
and Joey Cardoza said, ‘Forget about it,’ ” Tenenbaum
As for Cardoza’s alleged jailhouse letters, Tenenbaum said his client
wasn’t admitting the robbery, but was upset because Grace was throwing
him under the bus.