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Verdicts Split in Shackling

November 06, 2002|Monte Morin | Times Staff Writer

A man who shackled his 21-year-old daughter to a bed after she disobeyed him and dated a married man was convicted of misdemeanor false imprisonment Tuesday. But a judge acquitted David Mata Avila, 53, of the more serious felony imprisonment charge.

Jurors deadlocked when it came to charges against his wife, Guadalupe Mata, 51. Jurors voted 10 to 2 to acquit her of false imprisonment. Prosecutors will decide today whether to retry her.

The charges stemmed from an incident in June when the Fullerton couple's daughter Giovana returned home from a date with a man whom her parents had forbidden her to see. The daughter told police that her father had hit her and then shackled her to the bed. Defense lawyers had said that the chains were placed on the daughter in a way that she could easily escape and that a padlock on the chain was not locked.

Jurors acquitted the father of a misdemeanor battery charge.

"I think the jury found that the chains were more a symbolic gesture than a malicious attempt to hurt the girl," defense lawyer Patrick McNeal said.

A misdemeanor false-imprisonment conviction can carry up to a year in jail, but the mother and father have already spent three months in custody, and it is unlikely the father will spend additional time in jail. However, the couple, who have been in the country illegally for more than 14 years, now face deportation proceedings by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Lawyers for them said they would fight to remain in the U.S.

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