San Francisco News

Sheriff Mirkarimi domestic violence trial underway

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The domestic violence trial against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi got underway Friday.

Critical to the case are some photographs included in court documents filed by the district attorney's office Friday. Prosecutors say the images show the bruises Mirkarimi's wife Eliana Lopez suffered when he grabbed her arm on New Year's Eve. The district attorney's office says without the video, this case would be "extremely difficult to prosecute, perhaps impossible."

The district attorney's office took the photos from the video shot by Lopez's neighbor. The video was taken when Lopez went to neighbor Ivory Madison's house. You can see her showing Madison her bruised arm. Prosecutors say she told Madison how Mirkarimi had physically abused her during an argument New Year's Eve and on another occasion.

In the photographs, she appears distressed and tearful. Prosecutors say Lopez told Madison she and her husband argued over their 2-year-old son Theo and he grabbed her arm, causing the bruise. The 50-second video is the district attorney's most important evidence against Mirkarimi. Their court documents were filed in response to motions made by Mirkarimi's lawyer Lidia Stiglich earlier this week arguing that the video should be ruled inadmissible. "The thing is, the evidence they're trying to introduce are out of court statements. They're hearsay. You need foundation for that," Stiglich said.

Victims' spontaneous statements are often admissible in court, but Stiglich says Lopez's videotaped comments were not spontaneous since she made them 20 hours after the incident when she visited Madison. Prosecutors argue that her remarks are admissible since the video shows her in an emotional state, speaking spontaneously what happened. They say the lapse of time when Lopez finally spoke to Madison is irrelevant.

Judge Garrett Wong was assigned to the case Friday. He has presided over numerous domestic violence cases. Mirkarimi said Friday he has been seeing his son regularly now that the court has allowed supervised visits. He also said he has had no problem doing his job as sheriff. Asked if the trial had been a distraction at all he replied, "Not to the department. The department has been maintaining its utmost professionalism and we're getting everything done as we should be."

Judge Wong says he wants the weekend to review all of the motions filed. All of the motions are critical to the trial which begins Monday when arguments will be heard. The court hopes a jury will be selected by the end of next week.

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Tags:
ross mirkarimi, crime, san francisco news, vic lee
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