Emotional first day of testimony in Joshua Almeda sentencing
It was an emotional day in court for the family of Bree Moore. The sentencing hearing for her killer, Joshua Almeda, began Monday. It’s the final step in a case that started almost two years ago, when Almeda shot Moore at his mother’s Hillside home.
Almeda has admitted to the shooting, and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Because he avoided a trial, Monday was the first time much of the witness testimony has been heard by the court.
All of Monday’s testimony was from an expert witness, called by the defense. Dr. Mark Zelig, a board-certified psychologist, testified that Almeda has a borderline personality disorder and serious substance abuse problem, both of which contributed to the shooting.
Zelig said people with borderline personality disorder show extreme fear of abandonment, impulse control issues and unstable relationships characterized by extreme highs and lows. He said Almeda also showed signs of long-term depression and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder brought on by the shooting.
Zelig said people with borderline personality disorders can get better with rehabilitation and treatment, and that after a period of 15 to 20 years, Almeda could be safe to release.
“He reports a positive attitude towards the possibility of personal change, the value of therapy and the importance of personal responsibility,” Zelig testified. “However, the nature of some of these problems suggests that treatment will be fairly challenging.”
Zelig also testified he didn’t find any evidence of physical domestic violence between Almeda and Moore, who were in a relationship. It’s an issue the prosecutor challenged during cross examination, asking if the doctor could say with certainty there was no domestic violence.
“I only can go on the evidence that I have seen, that’s been presented to me and I just didn’t see any evidence,” he testified.
The prosecutor highlighted some text messages between the couple, in which Almeda called Moore derogatory names. He also pointed out Moore will never be able to give her side of what happened.
The case received a lot of attention after Moore’s parents lobbied the Legislature to pass a law in her name — Bree’s Law. It requires middle and high schoolers be taught about dating violence.
The sentencing hearing will continue Tuesday, when the Moores are expected to speak about their loss in a victim impact statement. It will be up to the judge to decide Almeda’s sentence.
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