Update: (4:41 p.m.): Judge Susan Breall issues stay away order, barring Sheriff from seeing his family. Meanwhile, prosecutors read Eliana Lopez's text messages in court. Read updated story below.
Original story: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi appeared in court today where he pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor charges, including battery, child endangerment, and attempting to dissuade a witness.
As Mirkarimi, who was sworn in as San Francisco's sheriff on Jan. 8 amid domestic violence allegations, stood to enter his plea, Judge Susan Breall greeted him by saying "Good afternoon, sheriff." However, SF Weekly staff writer Peter Jamison, who is at the courthouse, tells us that Breall followed that by making it clear the former city supervisor and newly minted sheriff was not going to get any special treatment.
To prove her point, Breall said she was inclined to issue a stay away order, which would bar Mirkarimi from seeing his wife, Eliana Lopez and their 2-year-old son, Theo, for a longer period of time. Currently, there is a temporary restraining order, which was issued Jan. 13 -- the same day Mirkarimi was arrested.
"A child is involved, and the safety of the child is involved," Breall told Mirkarimi's attorney, Robert Waggener.
Lopez, who is trying to fight the stay away order, is attempting to issue an affidavit that would be sealed for the judge. Lopez is currently with her lawyer meeting with a victim services advocate in the District Attorney's Office. Breall noted that it was "unusual" for an alleged victim to meet in those cases with their attorney present.
"I understand that Mrs. Lopez is an extremely difficult position," Breall said to the courtroom.
"We are going to handle this case like every other case, like every
other defendant charged with these kinds of offenses. If Mrs. Lopez wants to
make a statement, it won't be in camera, it will be to the community in this
Update: SF Weekly staff writer Peter Jamison was at the hearing and tells us that Judge Breall issued a stay away order, which means Mirkarimi will not be able to see his wife or son for now. When the judge announced the news, Mirkarimi, who is due back to court on Monday, bowed his head and left the courtroom with his lawyer.
"The situation is still a volatile situation," Breall said. "I think there is evidence ... that is more than enough to issue a stay away order," Breall said. "Is this a case of black eyes and broken bones? Absolutely not. In in fact, over 60 to 70 percent of cases that come through my courtroom are not those injuries."
A tearful Lopez gave a sworn statement, declaring that she was not endangered and accused the judge of racism. "I think the violence against me is that I don't have my family together -- I'm not afraid of my husband."
But that's not how she came across in text messages she allegedly wrote to her neighbor, Ivory Madison, who reported the alleged domestic violence dispute. Prosecutors read the text messages aloud in court, giving the public a glimpse of Lopez's written complaints about her husband.
According to prosecutors, Lopez sent the following text message to Madison:
"Will the police arrest him or will they just talk to him?" Madison responded saying she did not know the answer to her question, but would find out. Lopez then followed it with another message stating: "Hello, Ivory. I am not going to call the police. I am going to open a record with my doctor. "
She wrote another message saying "He is very scared, he thinks I'm going to tell."
Prosecutors later read yet one more message that was either an e-mail or a text from Lopez to Madison, explaining that the family took a trip to Monterey after she had allegedly reported the abuse to her neighbor.
"We are leaving Monterey. The aquarium was so nice and Ross fed us regularly."
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