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Monday, February 27, 2012

Ross Mirkarimi Trial: Wife's Video Displaying Bruises Admissable in Court

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 12:15 PM

click to enlarge Another bad day for Ross
  • Another bad day for Ross

A Judge ruled this morning that the video Sheriff  Ross Mirkarimi's wife made with a neighbor detailing the sheriff's alleged physical abuse will be allowed as evidence. This, of course, is a huge victory for the prosecution, which has stated that without this scathing video -- which reveals a nasty bruise on his wife's arm -- the trial could not go forward.

The prosecution argued today that the testimony from Ivory Madison, Eliana Lopez's neighbor, is not hearsay and that California's evidence code is clear: A spontaneous statement made under emotional stress is admissible in court. In short, Lopez's description of the alleged domestic violence was the "equivalent of a 911 call."

However, Mirkarimi's attorney argued that, since Lopez's statement to Madison was made on Jan. 1 -- the day after the alleged incident -- she had plenty of time to reflect, thus her testimony on video could have been "scripted" or "staged."They also claimed Lopez's real concerns while making the video were about winning custody of the couple's 2-year-old son, Theo. This only proves her

statements of domestic violence were calculated, according to the

defense. Ultimately, Judge Garrett L. Wong ruled that the video in question is "sufficiently spontaneous" and will be allowed for trial.

Wong, -- who will be presiding over Mirkarimi's trial -- said the issue here is about the mental state of Lopez in the video, which he thinks displays "a woman who is still crying and visibly upset." Mirkarimi was arrested in January, a few days after he was sworn in as sheriff, and charged with three misdemeanors, including battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness.

Wong went even further, ruling that all of Lopez's statements made to Madison on Jan. 1 will be admitted as evidence. However, any comments she made after Jan. 1, 2012 to Madison and other neighbors about her husband physically abusing her won't be admissible.

Another key issue that has yet to be resolved is whether Christina Flores, Mirkarimi's ex-girlfriend who claims the sheriff physically abused her nearly four years ago -- will be allowed to testify in this trial. Wong decided that Flores, who went to police a few weeks after Mirkarimi was arrested on domestic violence charges -- should appear in court and provide some initial testimony to the judge before he makes a decision.

Flores has accused Mirkarimi, whom she dated in 2008, of pushing her, and compared him to a raging pit bull. But because she did not report the alleged abuse until four years later, it might not be admissible in court, considering California's statue of limitations for domestic violence cases is three years.

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Kate Conger

Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.


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