By Julie Maruskin and Arianna Medina
A woman who allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of her ex-husband now fears for her safety and the safety of her family as restraining order violations persist.
The defendant, Mr. Scott Halverson, was charged with violating a family law restraining order. He allegedly violated this order on three different occasions over the course of time from Oct. 2018 to April 2019. The alleged victim claimed she had been married to the defendant for 18 years before she left the marriage. After the divorce, she stated she had filed for a restraining order out of fear of what he might do, claiming he was “unpredictable” and had a “short fuse.” She had filed this restraining order with the help of Women Self-Help resources and, according to the victim’s testimony, the defendant persistently attempted to contact her and her daughter. Mr. Halverson has pleaded “not guilty” to these charges.
The prosecution began opening statements by addressing the jury, claiming it was going to be a “simple trial” and reiterating how it was the alleged victim who left the marriage and sought the domestic violence restraining order. The prosecution argued that after the restraining order was granted and the alleged victim was awarded protection, the defendant continued to make contact. They offered several examples of how Mr. Halverson reached out to the ex-wife and the daughter: making phone calls, sending flowers and emails, and leaving threatening voicemails. The prosecution also informed the jury of the specific dates the defendant made contact and emphasized that these instances occurred after the restraining order had been granted. They concluded by asking the jury to, when the time comes, find the defendant guilty.
The defense’s opening statement asserted that Mr. Halverson had no idea there was a restraining order against him. The defense claimed the defendant did receive a notice to appear in court, but he believed it to be in regard to divorce paperwork. Furthermore, the defense claimed the defendant was inappropriately served this notice three days before his expected appearance in court, as opposed to the standard five-day notice. The defense went on to argue that when Mr. Halverson did appear in court and looked into the matter, he was told there was no restraining order on file and therefore continued contact. The defense concluded by claiming that it was not until April 8, 2019, that Mr. Halverson found out about the restraining order; alluding to a voicemail left by Mr. Halverson as verbal documentation of this discovery. They asked the jury to, when the time comes, find the defendant not guilty and acquit him.
After the opening statements, the court began calling witnesses. The first witness was Mr. Halverson’s ex-wife, who had filed the restraining order against him. The alleged victim identified the defendant. When questioned on the stand by the prosecuting attorney, she had trouble recalling the date that she had divorced Mr. Halverson. She responded that she knew it was in during the month of January, however, she wavered between answering that she had divorced him in 2017 or 2018. The victim was asked about her reasoning behind filing a restraining order against Mr. Halverson after already getting divorced. She testified that her reasoning constituted fearing for her life and for her family’s safety.
In her testimony, the complaining witness had claimed that she had experienced interactions with Mr. Halverson which represented emotional, physical, and mentally abusive behavior during their marriage. She had never reported these instances in the past. When asked about examples of this behavior, she unwillingly provided examples such as how Mr. Halverson had hit her on the side of the head, had made threats such as disabling her vehicle so that she was not able to leave, and about how he wanted to throw her off of the porch. After getting divorced, the alleged victim moved to Montana before coming back to try to reconcile with the defendant. This interaction had turned into a “volatile” exchange, as described by the witness. She later filed the restraining order.
Following the restraining order, the alleged victim stated the defendant persistently attempted to contact her. She claimed that she had knowledge of the defendant repeatedly sending multiple messages to the people around her. The witness was asked if his interactions with people she was close with concerned her, to which she responded that the messages did concern her since they contained threats toward her and her daughter.
The victim responded to questions about her use of her phone’s applications and claimed that she would sometimes have her daughter help her use them. In her testimony, she recounted that her daughter was with her and saw that the defendant had contacted her through Facebook Messenger after the restraining order was issued. In addition to the Facebook messages, the alleged victim claimed that letters, voicemails, and flowers were sent to her daughter in an attempt to contact the ex-wife. She stated that the flowers had a message that said to “be kind.”
When asked about the restraining order being issued, the victim responded that the defendant had appeared in court when the restraining order was served.
Conflicting statements from the witness and the defense attorneys about the knowledge of a restraining order being issued led to the examination of the victim’s statement about her reasoning behind the restraining order and the charges filed against Mr. Scott Halverson.
The trial is set to resume on Oct. 8 at 9am.