By Melissa Sanchez
On the morning of Wednesday, May 23, 2018, the trial against Bernald Hermon Stanhope proceeded with Judge David Rosenberg presiding in Department 14. The prosecution called their first witness to the stand, J.H., who was also the alleged victim in this case. Deputy DA Jay Linden for the People conducted the direct examination, laying down the foundation and background of the event that took place on November 7, 2017.
While on the stand J.H. testified how she and the defendant were involved in a three-and-a-half-year on and off relationship while both attended Woodland Community College. She recalled the events of that evening, beginning with how they were both sitting in a statistics class, where she gave a male classmate a piece of candy.
It was then that Stanhope got angry and brought it to her attention that she was attempting to make him jealous. Subsequently, she got upset and stepped out of class during the break to talk in the hallway about the candy she gave her classmate.
After class they made their way to the parking lot and, once she was in the driver’s seat of her car, the argument escalated as he stood by the driver’s side of her vehicle. She continued, describing how, while she was attempting to leave, he reached for her hair, to which she reacted with raising both hands and leaning back in her seat.
Once she had leaned back, she noticed she had been scratched, which she testified happened from leaning back while he was reaching for her hair.
She then attempted to leave and upon backing up hit Mr. Stanhope’s bicycle with her rear bumper. She then drove away from the scene.
Jay Linden presented to the court Exhibit #1 with pictures taken by the victim herself of her face with three visible scratches by her nose and chin.
During the cross-examination of the alleged victim, it was brought up by Deputy Public Defender Jonathan Opet how the victim had applied for an internship under the Yolo County District Attorney’s office. Opet brought into question how Linden is in the office where she applied, drawing questions of conflict of interest.
Opet proceed to ask the victim about her current marriage, to which she responded that she was still living with her husband and still married to him during the duration of her relationship with Stanhope.
He continued to ask about the scratches on her face and how she had previously stated that the scratches could have come from her ring when she was raising her hands while Stanhope reached to her hair.
The cross-examination concluded with her testifying that she was unsure of where the scratches came from: the ring or Stanhope.
The victim was then excused and subjected to recall.
The People then called the officer involved in the investigation to the stand, Officer P.C.
He explained how he was called in from the dean of the college because of concerns about how the victim received the scratches. He explained that J.H. said she received them from her boyfriend from an altercation the night before.
He took a report from her and took photos of her face, which he described as having three scratches: on her nose, upper lip, and chin.
During cross-examination by Opet, he asked the officer as to why he waited a week to file the report after having conducted the interview, and he responded that, since it was a misdemeanor, it did not have to be filed the same day.
The witness was excused and the prosecution proceeded to call Officer S.S. from the city of West Sacramento.
Linden began the direct examination by asking his correlation to the defendant, and the officer explained that on August 28, 2013, he was called for a disturbance and child contact concern.
Once arrived he saw that N.L., the mother of Stanhope’s child, was physically abused with a swollen and open laceration on her back and blood on her mouth.
After this question, the witness was excused from his brief testimony and Linden proceeded to read to the jury stipulations agreed by both sides.
The stipulations included that Stanhope was convicted of battery against a cohabitant on August 28, 2013.
The People rested and the defense called the defendant to the stand.
Upon taking the stand, Stanhope gave his testimony of the events that took place on November 7, 2017. He explained how they actually left together during the break of the class and not at the end, and how the incident took place in a different parking lot as opposed to the one they initially walked to together.
He explained he was reaching for her because she was panicking due to having run over his bike and slightly missing hitting him. He stressed how he did not reach for her hair, or scratch her, and only noticed the scratches after she got back in her car and he pulled his bike from under the car.
In the cross-examination by Linden, it was mentioned how, for his 2013 conviction, he failed out of his anger management classes three times before finally completing them. His response to missing the classes were because at the time his son was diagnosed with leukemia which resulted in his missing classes.
Court then broke for recess, set to return for closing statements.