by Antoinnette Borbon
A Yolo County California Highway Patrol officer was held to answer today after a preliminary hearing in which the officer’s wife refused to testify. Officer Armando Ortega of Woodland, California, has been charged with robbery, assault with intent to do great bodily injury, false imprisonment and assault on a person by a custodial officer.
Judge David Reed did not hold the officer to answer for the death threat made against Ortega’s spouse and/or her alleged boyfriend. Priscilla Ortega, the officer’s wife, was called to the stand by Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens but, as he began to question her, she repeatedly stated, weeping, “I cannot answer your questions.”
Judge Reed explained to her that she could be found in contempt of court, after being referred to a domestic violence counselor, per the Code of Civil Procedure section 1219(b).
DDA Couzens made the accusation that Attorney Steven Sabbadini had on occasion prompted his witnesses not to talk and that argued it bordered on criminal.
Judge Reed adamantly disagreed and gave Ms. Ortega the choice to speak with a counselor first before he would rule on the contempt charge.
After Ms. Ortega left the courtroom, Officer Benjamin Yen from the Woodland Police Department took the stand.
Yen was dispatched to the home on Farnham Avenue where the couple lived.
He testified to taking the statement of Ms. Ortega.
Officer Yen talked about the first assault. He said Ms. Ortega told him that Armando had grabbed her cell phone and had begun deleting Facebook pictures.
Ms. Ortega told Yen that Armando was asking her, “Who are you cheating on me with?” while he slapped her on the right side of her face.
Shortly after being slapped by her husband, Ms. Ortega left with the children to go to a game. When she returned, Armando was sitting on the couch.
She told Yen that he began asking her again, “Who are you cheating on me with?”
She described to Officer Yen that Armando accused her of cheating and told her he would look for her and her alleged boyfriend, “make him (beep) her in front of him, and then shoot them both.”
She told Yen that Armando grabbed her by her neck and threw her up against a wall, then, holding her by the neck as he dragged her along the kitchen table, repeatedly banged her head into the pantry door.
Ms. Ortega described calling for her son to help, but she could barely breathe or talk as Armando continued to choke her while he dragged her along the table by the neck.
But finally Ms. Ortega was able to yell for her son to make the call to police.
Officer Yen testified that Ms. Ortega told him the children were present during both assaults that day.
Ms. Ortega told Yen that her daughter had asked Armando why he hit her mommy, and he replied to their daughter, “Mommy is cheating on daddy.”
The defense attorney for Mr. Ortega had only a few questions for Officer Yen. She asked him about the argument over the Facebook photos and texts found on the alleged victim’s cell phone.
Yen explained to the defense that he was unsure about the photos from a Facebook page and/or about any texts on Ms. Ortega’s cell phone. He said Ms. Ortega was concerned about getting her cell phone back during the first incident, which led to her being slapped by the defendant.
He said Ms. Ortega was shocked at her husband’s behavior because he had never been abusive before.
Mr. Couzens asked the judge to hold Mr. Ortega accountable for all charges.
After listening to testimony and viewing photos of Ms. Ortega’s injuries, Judge Reed held Armando Ortega to answer on four counts, but not the Penal Code section 422 charge for the alleged threat to kill his wife and her alleged boyfriend.
The defense for Officer Ortega argued that he had no criminal past and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She stated that the gun he has is not kept at the residence but at his office at work and her client posed no threat.
Ortega’s bail was upheld by Judge Reed.
Ms. Ortega will return to court on October 29. Judge Reed will determine whether or not to hold her in contempt of court.
CHP Officer Armando Ortega will be arraigned on the charges on October 29, also.
DDA Couzens was standing in for DDA Deanna Hays.