DA and Woodland Police Inexplicably Charge Wrong Person, the Victim, in DV Case

Yolo-Count-Court-Room-600It started out as a late night call on the night of December 22-23, 2010, from nine-year-old Justin Parvin to his mother Yolanda “Star” Parvin, that his father was drunk and he wanted to be picked up and taken away from his father’s trailer.

Ms. Parvin would confront her drunken ex-husband, a confrontation ensued, Ms. Parvin called the police and a few days later she was stunned to be arrested on felony assault charges.

Ms. Parvin, who runs a Christian Women’s center, was suddenly facing seven years in prison.  It took just under five months, but Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hayes announced in court on May 11 that they were dropping the charges in the interest of justice.

What had changed?  The DA, five months after the fact, finally interviewed nine-year-old Justin Parvin, just as the police had done the day after the event, and the DA probably realized that they got this case 180 degrees wrong.

According to Ms. Parvin’s version of the story, she received a call around 12:30 at night from her son who told her that his father had been drinking and that he needed her to pick him up.  She was about a 20-minute drive away in Sacramento from Danny Parvin’s Woodland trailer.

Her son was standing outside, holding his TV, he was getting his clothes to put in the car when Mr. Parvin came out yelling obscenities, heavily intoxicated.

“He was not threatening just, you know, calling me a B and, you know, different things, just being a jerk,” Ms. Parvin told the Vanguard in a phone interview last week. 

“I told him we are not going to be doing this anymore. Back with the kid being with him when he was drinking and that’s when he said that I want a fight and he pulled his shirt off and then he attacked me,” she said.

At this point a scuffle ensued between the two.  Her friend who had accompanied her from Sacramento tried to help and jumped on his back.

“He grabbed me by my hair and he had me by my hair,” she said.

Eventually she backed up to the truck in the driveway and pulled out of the truck bed a green canister, of a blow torch.

“I just started hitting him with it until he let me go,” she said and indicated that he was badly hurt.  “He had to have stitches in his head.”

Mr. Parvin’s girlfriend also tried to intervene.  “She got in between us and I hit her too but I don’t really know. You know, all I know is my head was down and I was just aiming at him, you know. So, she was trying to get him off of me as well,” she said.

According to Ms. Parvin, she finally got out of there and called the police from the highway.

“I told them what had happened and I told them I’m going home to Sacramento,” she told the Vanguard.  The police called her back at 4 am, a few hours later.  “They said that they had been to the emergency room, Danny had checked himself out of the emergency room.”

The police went to the trailer and checked out the crime scene, taking pictures.

All this time she was led to believe they were focusing on her ex-husband’s role. 

“They had total confidence. They gave me no indication that there was going to be any kind of repercussions for what I did. It was all about, it was self-defense,” she said.

They asked her about the “weapon,” “I told them where I got it, out of the work truck in the driveway but I never let it go. It was still on my hand while I was driving, ‘cause I was freaked out, you know and so, it was in my car so I told the officer, I would come to the police station.”

“The next day, he wanted me to bring the weapon and all of the hair that was pulled out of my head and so, I got him a baggie full of my hair and the torch that I used to hit him with,” she continued.  “And the thing about it was, not one time was I asked, was I hurt? Nobody ever was concerned about my well-being or nothing.”

The police had Justin Parvin come to the police station to tell his story.

Later they went to a restaurant when Ms. Parvin received a call back from the police.  “and I got a call back on my cell phone from the police officers saying that his supervisor, that there, that they had to arrest and it was going to be me.”

Ms. Parvin told the Vanguard that the arresting Officer Snider was outraged that he had to arrest her.  “He wouldn’t even put handcuffs on me,” she said, “He couldn’t believe it.”

“He said he couldn’t even believe he was having to arrest me and he apologized to me,” she said.  “I’m in front of my family and he apologized to me and he said he couldn’t believe it.”

During the preliminary hearing in March, Danny Parvin would tell a very different story.  He testified that his son had called his ex-wife because he and his girlfriend Lea were arguing.  He testified that he was not intoxicated, that he only had about four beers.

When the son went to get his X-box, Mr. Parvin heard his ex-wife coming up the driveway yelling that she was going to “[f-word] him up.”  She then came up to the trailer steps and started hitting him.

He said they got mad about some ongoing argument over different parenting styles, they both got mad and it escalated.  He said she hit him with something.  He was bleeding over the left eye. 

He testified that he grabbed her by the hair, but she still did not stop hitting him.  There was no physical contact before she hit him.

Likewise, Lea Kirby, the girlfriend, testified that Ms. Parvin was walking hurriedly, yelling “I’m gonna [f-word] you up!”  She said that she got hit in the head, saw a cylinder in Ms. Parvin’s hand, and saw Mr. Parvin get hit two or more times, but didn’t see the first blow.  She saw Mr. Parvin had blood all over and his eyes were closed.

Deputy Public Defender Emily Fisher argued that the witnesses were not credible.  Indeed, according to Ms. Parvin, their account in court varies quite markedly from the police report.

However, Judge Gaard found sufficient evidence to hold Ms. Parvin to answer the charges.

With conflicting the stories by the parents, the key would be testimony of Justin Parvin.  Remember though, he had not spoken with DA investigators, he had only given his side of the story to police the day after the incident.

Once he finally spoke to DA investigators it was May 10.  Only four and a half months after the charges were filed did the DA investigators speak to the only witness without any clear motivation to fabricate the story.

Justin Parvin would tell the DA exactly what he had told the police four and a half months before.

“The DA had access to everything that happened,” Ms. Parvin told the Vanguard.  They had all of the police reports.

The Vanguard spoke to Justin Parvin. 

“He was just pushing on Lea, Lea Kirby his girlfriend,” Justin Parvin said. “So, I just didn’t want to be around all that so, and he was drunk. So, I just called my mom and asked her if she could pick me up and it was like 1 o’clock in the morning.”

He continued, “So, when she came, my, my dad just came bursting out and saying what happened in the past because my mom was in jail and all that. So, he was saying stuff about the past. Then, so, after that, he stood by my mom and started grabbing her hair.”

“So, her arm’s all bruised up. So, by then, after that, I jumped on them, trying to get them off and then, my mom told me, ‘Get in the car,’ and I got in the car,” he said.

“And my mom grabbed, she was just reaching, trying to get something ‘cause she didn’t know what she grabbed. So, she tried to hit him somewhere to get him off. So, then she told me to ‘Get in the car,’ then I got in the car. Then, when, she got off, he got off my mom and then we actually called for the police, obviously. We called the cops on the way, going home,” he finished.

Why would the police supervisor order the arrest of Ms. Parvin?  It is not clear.  Officer Snider was never asked to take the stand.

It could be worse.  Ms. Parvin told the Vanguard that her ex-husband has not seen either of their sons since the night in question.  They do not want to see him until he gets sober.

In the meantime, there will be no more visits, as Mr. Parvin has in the last two weeks moved away to Idaho.

There may be a temptation to say all is well that ends well, but the system seriously screwed up this case by not checking in with Justin Parvin much sooner in the process.  Ms. Parvin suffered needless arrest, anxiety and embarrassment in this process.

True, the charges were dropped, but they never should have been filed in the first place.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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8 Comments

  1. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Why would the police supervisor order the arrest of Ms. Parvin? It is not clear.[/quote]

    Because Mr. Parvin was the only one injured, and Ms. Parvin was the perpetrator of those injuries. Therefore, on first blush, she appears to be the aggressor.

    [quote]There may be a temptation to say all is well that ends well, but the system seriously screwed up this case by not checking in with Justin Parvin much sooner in the process. Ms. Parvin suffered needless arrest, anxiety, and embarrassment in this process.[/quote]

    In a perfect world, yes it would have been best if the child had been interviewed immediately. But remember, there have been serious budget cuts and the DA’s Office is short-handed.

  2. biddlin

    As a municipal employee I had a number of occasions to make police reports . After my first few I got into the habit of making all of them written and making copies, because the officers invariably got the facts wrong. Writing too fast ? Trying to make the facts fit their theory ? Budding novelists ? Who knows ? Officer John Wagner, SPD, once told me he was like an NBA referee, he frequently missed the predicate foul, but was right on top of the retaliation .

  3. Rifkin

    Considering the testimony of the child, Mr. Danny Parvin needs to be prosecuted for perjury at the least.

    Also, if Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hayes did not read the police interviews with the child, as you report, before she charged Yolanda Parvin with a criminal offense, Ms. Hayes should be fined and fired. That is inexcusable.

  4. Tecnichick

    ERM it is interesting how you always slam the Vanguard and are quick to question and use scouring judgement but when it comes to the mistakes that the DA has clearly made, you make excuses. Since your excuse is always the same “budget cuts” and “short handed”; perhaps you might be interested in knowing some truth. In the last few years where there have been serious budget issues within Yolo County and many departments including the Sheriff, CAO, Social Services and other departments have all had lay offs, the DA’s has not laid off one person, in fact, he has HIRED a few! Furthermore, budget cuts and tightening the belt is more reason to carefully and cautiously handle cases as this is a direct spending! I also find it amusing how you continue to bash and scrutinize every story, you are often the first to respond but then the following week, you want one of your own authored stories published! Please consider all of that before posting please.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    “Because Mr. Parvin was the only one injured, and Ms. Parvin was the perpetrator of those injuries. Therefore, on first blush, she appears to be the aggressor. “

    If you ignore completely the statement by the child.

    “In a perfect world, yes it would have been best if the child had been interviewed immediately.”

    He was, by the police.

    “In a perfect world, yes it would have been best if the child had been interviewed immediately. But remember, there have been serious budget cuts and the DA’s Office is short-handed. “

    In the meantime the real perp is getting off scott free and the DA is not hurting for investigators or deputy DAs. THe excuse doesn’t fly, reading police report itself should have been enough to drop this one.

    We watched the prelim, Danny and Lea were not very convincing.

  6. Fight Against Injustice

    The limited investigations done by the DA’s office has been a consistent problem.

    Remember the case where the DA’s office charged a man for killing another man only to find out that the person wasn’t dead. This takes very little investigation to see if someone is alive or dead.

    Or how about the case where the DA charged someone for assault and never checked with the victim to see if they got the right guy. I remember the guy spent 5 months in prison. The DA offered an apology, but the guy lost his wages and missed his son being born all because of poor a poor investigation done by the DA’s office.

  7. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]ERM it is interesting how you always slam the Vanguard and are quick to question and use scouring judgement but when it comes to the mistakes that the DA has clearly made, you make excuses. [/quote]

    It is not clear the DA made a mistake here. Mr. Parvin was the one who had the injuries, not Ms. Parvin. It is common practice to arrest the party who is not injured in a domestic violence case. This is done on a consistent basis by law enforcement. Secondly, the child was living with mom, so has a reason to back up mom’s story rather than dad’s, whether it is the truth or not. Children are used as pawns by divorced parents all the time. The reason I know this is bc of my experiences in the family law arena both personally and as a family law attorney. Precisely what experience do you or dmg bring to the table on these issues? I don’t feel as if we necessarily have all the facts in this case. It is entirely possible the DA’s Office was shorthanded, and did not take the child’s testimony at face value, and had to do a bit more investigation. I just don’t know, and refuse to jump to conclusions in a case where I don’t know all the facts, and am only hearing one version that may be colored by bias.

    [quote]I also find it amusing how you continue to bash and scrutinize every story, you are often the first to respond but then the following week, you want one of your own authored stories published! Please consider all of that before posting please.[/quote]

    Why the personal attack? I was asked by the author of this blog to provide a monthly column on aging issues, which I do on a volunteer basis free of charge. I do this bc I believe in what this blog is trying to do and what it stands for; I consider dmg to be a good friend; and I consider it a community service. Why you attribute nefarious purposes to my publishing articles on this blog is beyond me. You are certainly free to disagree with my point of view, but wouldn’t you agree that freely expressing a point of view is what this blog is all about? I really fail to understand where you animosity towards me is coming from…

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