MERCED - The jury trial of a man accused of beating a 56-year-old Atwater
woman during a brutal home invasion is scheduled to begin today in Merced
County Superior Court.
Prosecutors say Joey Edward Cardoza, 34, committed the robbery with girlfriend
Kimberly Suzanne Grace, 31, during the early morning hours of April 27
at a residence in the 2300 block of Fay Drive.
The case outraged neighbors in the Bellevue Road and North Winton Way area,
prompting them to launch a Neighborhood Watch group.
Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall said one of the prosecution’s
key witnesses in the case is Grace, who has agreed to testify against
Cardoza during the trial. In exchange for her testimony, Grace pleaded
no contest to one count of first-degree burglary.
At the conclusion of Cardoza’s trial, Grace is scheduled to be sentenced
to one year in jail, followed by one year in a drug treatment facility
and three years on probation. Wall said the prosecution made the agreement
with Grace because she played a minor role in the crime and has cooperated
with Atwater police.
Cardoza has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include home invasion
robbery, first-degree burglary and assault. He’s being defended
Tenenbaum said his client denies being at the scene, saying Grace is testifying
only to save her own skin. “It wasn’t him,” Tenenbaum
said. “She’s turning on him to save herself.”
A detective testified earlier this year that the victim told him she awoke
at 3 a.m. to find the defendants inside her home. When the pair realized
she was awake, Cardoza allegedly ordered her to the ground, pulled her
hair and punched her in the face. Police said Cardoza knocked out one
of the victim’s teeth during the attack and injured her left eye.
During a preliminary hearing, police testified that Cardoza was the ex-boyfriend
of the victim’s daughter. He previously had been convicted of burglarizing
the same woman in 2007 and spent three years in prison. Prosecutors believe
the recent home invasion was revenge for the 2007 conviction.
Police said the robbers took off in the victim’s Buick. Atwater police
detectives later found the car in a Turlock shopping center parking lot
and obtained surveillance footage of what police say is Cardoza leaving the car.
Detectives also said they obtained Grace’s image from an ATM surveillance
camera. If convicted, Cardoza faces up to 20 years in prison.
Cardoza remains at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.