The elderly parents of John Hernandez Felix took the stand in his defense. Felix is accused of killing Palm Springs Police Officers Jose ‘Gil’ Vega and Lesley Zerebny and injuring a third officer.
Felix’s mother Margarita wept as she listened to an audio recording of her interview with investigators in the days following the shooting. Her son Felix sat directly in front of her, but they didn’t make eye contact.
“Don’t get near, he’s armed,” you hear Margarita tell an investigator in Spanish, the words she says she told the officers the day her son gunned them down, adding she’d never seen her son like that.
Felix’s attorney John Patrick Dolan asks her to explain what she meant by that.
“I didn’t recognize him, my own son, I didn’t recognize him,” answers Margarita.
Assistant District Attorney Michelle Paradise pressed Margarita hard during cross examination, “You came here today how crazy your son is?”
Margarita tried to explain Felix was acting bizarre that day and went on to recount several run ins her sons had with Palm Springs Police officers saying she felt they were targeted.
Paradise asked if she blamed Officers Vega and Zerebny for their own deaths.
“No, I‘m not blaming them, I always said this, they didn’t handle it right, they didn’t handle it right and for that I’m very sorry,” Margarita answered in tears.
Paradise asked if Felix ever took responsibility for his actions.
“I cannot hold my son responsible, I‘m not sure he did it,” Margarita said to a stunned courtroom.
Felix’s father Santos put on headphones as he got on the stand. He’s hard of hearing. This posed a problem and a lot of confusion during his testimony. Some in the courtroom whispered this was an act.
As Santos read the transcript of the interview he gave investigators he shouted, “I don’t know who’s putting all these lies on here!”
Judge Anthony Villalobos quickly admonished him not to speak out of order and only answer questions, but this only made Santos more confused and upset forcing the judge to explain several more times.
Then, Dolan read Santos back his own words directly from a transcript, ” ‘Be careful because I can see he’s not well, I can see he’s crazy,’ who said this?’ asked Dolan.
“Who said this?” said Santos, causing many in the courtroom to burst into laughter.
“I’ve never used those words,” answered a defiant Santos.
Felix looked at his father the entire time Santos was on the stand.