Thursday, May 29, 2014

Houston Dad Accused of Beating Daughter Who Danced with Black Friend

Most of us would hope that the days are behind us when children were told they could not attend school or play with or date those of a different race. And society certainly has come a long way in terms of integration and moving forward as a diverse group of people. However, we occasionally come across stories that remind us some individuals are still unwilling to let go of discriminatory attitudes. In a recent incident in Houston, one father allegedly reinforced his racist views with violence.

Aaron Aranza is said to have become upset after he learned that his fourteen-year-old daughter had picked an African American friend to be her dance partner as she practiced for her upcoming quinceanera party. Aranza immediately put a stop to the dance rehearsal and shoved the teenager with whom his daughter had chosen to dance. He then allegedly beat his daughter, pulled her inside the house and then beat her some more with a belt, telling her that she would no longer live with her mother but come and stay with him, assumedly so that he could more closely monitor her social decisions. When she tried to run from the house, he dragged his daughter across the yard. Then he left the premises.

Aranza is currently being held in jail, unable to make bail. Already not the custodial parent, he hopefully now will face even greater restrictions in getting to spend time with his daughter. In addition to the horrible abuse that is the greatest misgiving here, Aranza likely made his discriminatory worldview a regular part of his interaction with his child and hoped to pass on these beliefs.

Racism is taught. We learn it from our parents, other family members, those whom we value in our community. It not only has the sad effect of limiting who we can come to know and call a friend, but also surfaces as very real threats to job security in the workplace. If you feel that you were fired or passed over for a promotion due to your race, we can help. Please contact Bertolino LLP today and we will work diligently to make sure justice is served.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Drunk Driver Released from Custody before Facing Charges of Manslaughter

Photo Courtesy: The Houston Chronicle
A man was driving the wrong way on a major road in Houston, his blood alcohol at a level that is capable of killing some people. He crashed into the rear of a SUV with three adult occupants, one of whom died two days later from his injuries. The drunk driver also was hurt and had police monitoring him while he was treated at the hospital. You would think the next part of this true story would be the man was arrested as soon as he was released from medical care and will stand trial for charges of manslaughter and DWI any day now. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Florian Quintanilla-Riva had a blood alcohol content that was six times the legal limit and is responsible for the death of 79-year-old Steven James. However, for reasons they cannot, or choose not, to explain, the Houston Police Department released him from custody before any charges were made. Several days later, Quintanilla-Riva was charged with intoxication manslaughter and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Now if only the police could find out where he is.

The prevalent assumption is that the suspect has fled the country. How authorities will manage to find him now is unknown, especially as he has been missing for a month and a half. He may now be hiding in his home country of El Salvador. The James’ family can only hope that their opportunity for justice will come.

Drunk drivers are one of the biggest menaces on Texas roads. These men and women make an irresponsible decision to get behind the wheel of an automobile when their thinking and reflexes are severely impaired and the consequences are all too often horrific.

If you have been the victim of another driver’s choice to drink and drive, you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering, as well as medical bills and lost time from work. Let us work with you to get you all that you deserve. Bertolino LLP has attorneys who specialize in DWI accidents and they will be strong advocates on your behalf. Contact us today.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Woman Attends San Antonio High School under Pretense of Being Only Fifteen

Credit: KLTV (Gregg County Jail and Facebook)
It may sound like a reboot of the 1980s TV show 21 Jump Street, but in addition to Johnny Depp being nowhere around, Charity Anne Johnson was committing a crime instead of going undercover to solve one.

Ms. Johnson, who is thirty-one years old, has been attending New Life Christian School in San Antonio for the past eight months under the false pretense that she was only fifteen. She was enrolled in the school after befriending Tamica Lincoln and telling her that she was an abused and abandoned teen. Lincoln took her into her home and cared for Johnson as if she was her own child. When Lincoln learned that she had been scammed by Johnson, she contacted the school and the police.

Charity Johnson, who attended the school under the name Charity Stevens, is now facing charges of failure to identify and giving false information and is currently in jail and unable to make bail.

This is a sad story that appears to have several victims. Most obvious among them is Tamica Lincoln, who only wanted to offer care to someone who she thought was only a child. But I also wonder what circumstances led Charity Johnson to choose a path of deception. While her actions are in no way justified, I hope that this arrest will allow her to get whatever help she needs so that she no longer is compelled to assume the identity of a teenager. And let us not forget the staff and student body at New Life Christian School. I imagine it was a little disconcerting for the kids to learn a person who they thought was a peer was instead much older and not who she claimed to be.

Tamica Johnson should be applauded for her desire to open her home when she saw a need. Unfortunately, there are many instances in Texas when children who truly are too young to care for themselves have parents who cannot or will not assume the responsibility. In such cases, new guardianship must be determined by the court for the protection of the children.

If you need assistance navigating the legal steps for securing a safe home for children you know, please contact the family law attorneys at Bertolino LLP. We can explain your rights and work with you to determine the best course of action.