Closing Arguments in Domestic Abuse Trial: From Domestic Abuse to Self-Defense?

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by Maryjo Nuñez

A Yolo County man has been charged with domestic abuse due to failing to demonstrate restraint and physically assaulting his previous partner. On May 4, 2014, Michael Gene Corcoran and his partner began their day running errands. However, on their way back home, the pair engaged in an escalating disagreement which ultimately culminated in physical violence.

The defendant is charged in violation of Penal Code section 243, which outlines the offense as purposefully imposing violence or force upon one’s spouse or partner, and on August 20, 2018, the trial of Mr. Corcoran began.

Witnesses testified on August 21, 2018, including Mr. Corcoran’s previous partner, “MG,” and “KM,” the man who intervened to stop their altercation, West Sacramento Officer Tony Herrera, and teenager “GF,” who observed the altercation and decided to call 911. On August 22, 2018, the trial concluded with closing arguments in Department 8 in the presence of Judge David W. Reed.

In their statements, both the People and the defense readdressed the evidence. However, in so doing, the defense stressed how they believed that the defendant simply acted out of self-defense, as Mr. Corcoran also suffered abuse at the hands of MG during their relationship. On the other hand, the People instead maintained that Corcoran did not act out of self-defense, and that his actions were that of pure battery.

This incident occurred a little over four years ago, which both the People and the defense acknowledged. According to the People, although the delay may have resulted in hazy recollections by those testifying, MG, KM, and GF nevertheless upheld key events and their accounts were corroborative.

To be considered battery, one must have willfully and unlawfully touched the victim and used more force than necessary, which the People argue the defendant did.

And although some minor elements were discordant, the People asserted that the major components demonstrating battery by Corcoran were present. For example, in GF’s 911 phone call, he discloses to the operator how “this guy [Mr. Corcoran] is beating [her] up…that lady [MG] was getting beat.” Even KM, when asked why he intervened, stated how “the lady [MG] needed help.”

In contrast, the defense declared that Mr. Corcoran acted like that because MG had provoked him and that she has a history of irking him and hitting him. In fact, when MG professed on August 21, 2018, how Corcoran had grabbed her hand to make her hit him, that action was really done of MG’s own volition. According to Mr. Corcoran, it was MG who initiated physical contact.

Apparently fed up with verbally arguing, MG hit Mr. Corcoran while he was driving and, when she hit him, she did not remove her ring. This resulted in the gash on Corcoran’s forehead, causing him to finally attack her. The defense also presented evidence of how MG prolonged physical violence against Mr. Corcoran in that she once again hit him, prompting him to call the authorities, and they took photographs of his injuries.

Moreover, the defense posited that if Mr. Corcoran had truly hurt MG, then MG should have presented a more distraught demeanor, which she did not. In response, the People implied that if MG actually hurt Corcoran in the way the defense claims, then it should be the defendant with the distraught demeanor, not MG. The People continued that, even if MG committed battery against Mr. Corcoran, that does not condone Mr. Corcoran’s actions in pulling her hair, throwing her on the ground, mounting her, then punching or slapping her.

The People also argued that Mr. Corcoran’s actions were so apparently dangerous that third-party observers obviously felt the need to intervene, hence his actions were not self-defense.

Indeed, all the witnesses who testified, except Corcoran himself, attested that MG was in danger and needed immediate help—it was not a mutual fight. Regardless, the jury, as they begin their deliberations, will decide whether Mr. Corcoran is guilty of domestic abuse or if he only acted in self-defense.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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One thought on “Closing Arguments in Domestic Abuse Trial: From Domestic Abuse to Self-Defense?”

  1. lydia casares

    I have known Micheal Corcoran for quite some time, and I have also know the lady Maria that he ia accused of having domeatic violence issues with. Although i do not condone his behavior on that day, i have witnessed the abuse toward him on more  several times. I have seen him with black eyes at least twice, lumps on his head and forhead more times that i care to admit.  He has suffered bruises to all parts of his body and thats just the begining. Marias mental abuse that i witness first hand  on Mike was horrific. The mind games and verbal put downs were also present.

    As i stated before his behavior was way out of line that day, i feel to punish him further would be unjust.

    If you  know Mike, he is a very gentle and kind man. He helps everyone with just about anything he can.

    i havent seen Mike in about a year but felt the need to speak up for the simple fact, that this is not the person i know and have grown to love.

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