By Penelope Tsiopos
The court heard two different versions of the same narrative on the afternoon of June 13, 2019. It will now be left to a jury to decide which witness is telling the truth.
“Ms. M” was called to the stand as one of two witnesses in the preliminary hearing. She is the pregnant ex-girlfriend of the defendant, Warren Lawrence Ricketts. Her testimony, as well as that of Officer Jeff Henderson, was used to decide if this case, resulting from the occurrences of April 5 and 15, needs to proceed to trial.
On the stand, Ms. M stated that she and Mr. Ricketts dated for a year and a half, but broke up a few months ago. Ms. M claims that the fight that took place on April 5 was just verbal. According to the statement she gave to the police officer, they began arguing because she found out that he was talking to another woman. The prosecutor asked her about a previous statement she had given, in which she claimed that Mr. Ricketts beat her with a closed fist “at least 20 times in one hour,” but she denied ever saying this.
In her testimony, Ms. M was adamant that he did not hit her and that she lied to the officer because she was mad and hurt. About two weeks later, on April 15, she was surprised to see him in her apartment complex. She admitted that, soon after, he broke down her door to make soup. However, she downplayed this occurrence when she said that the door was already broken and he merely broke a ten dollar lock she personally had installed. She told police officers that he caused $1,400 of damage.
The defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson, began asking the witness about the damaged door. She explained that she was locked out two months ago and she had to break down the door to get in.
Mr. Johansson showed her a photograph and asked her if she took that selfie. She replied, “I wouldn’t call it a selfie but yeah I took it myself.” The photograph shown was a photo of her bruised face. In response, she stated that it was an old photo, implying there have been past violent incidents and that she did not send in any of the photos. Her mother in Massachusetts was on the phone with her on April 5, as she had called her because she was scared. In response, her mother called the police and sent in all the photos. Mr. Johansson showed her eight different photos – some were of her face, her legs, and the broken door.
The next witness, Officer Henderson, responded to the call on April 5 and then met her after the occurrence on the 15th. What he took down in his police report differed from her testimony today.
On the night of April 5, he found her crying and upset. She seemed upset to him and half her face appeared to be swollen. When Deputy DA Michael Vroman asked him who sent the photos, he responded that Ms. M sent them via text or email. He witnessed her send them to his cell phone. He distinctly remembered because she had to send photos from one phone to another because of battery issues. However, he deletes all messages after he turns them into evidence, so he could not show the court what number sent him the photos.
She told Officer Henderson that Mr. Ricketts became upset when he found out about a relationship she was having since their breakup. Mr. Ricketts forced her on the bed and struck her upper body and lower body repeatedly with a closed fist. He defined the upper body as her neck and shoulder and her lower body as her shins and calves. The photos shown in court correspond to each area. She escaped his beating by running out of the room.
Officer Henderson saw her upper injuries but could not say for sure if he saw leg injuries. She had told him that the photographs were taken in her bedroom, contradicting her testimony that the photographs were old.
He mentioned that the defendant broke down the door to make soup.
After Officer Henderson’s testimony, Mr. Johansson called Ms. M to the stand again. He asked her if she stands by her testimony, and she said yes. In response to the officer’s statement about her sending the photos, she claimed that her mother must have sent the photos to her and she then must have sent them to the officer.
Her face must have appeared swollen and red because she was crying, not because he struck her.
Mr. Johansson ended with that he is aware some victims lie to protect their abuser, but Ms. M showed that there was an emotional reason for her testimony to the officer. The court nevertheless decided there is enough evidence to take this to a jury trial, which will take place on June 27 at 9:00 am. Mr. Ricketts will be released on bail and a protective order will be issued.