By Julietta Bisharyan
WOODLAND – A preliminary hearing was held Thursday afternoon regarding an incident of domestic violence in South Davis.
The defendant, Hector Guzman, is being accused of domestic battery after allegedly attempting to strangle his girlfriend on Dec. 15, 2019. From outside the Cambridge House apartment complex, two tenants brought the alleged victim to one of their apartments before calling the police. Four witnesses were called to the stand, including the alleged victim and the officers from the Davis Police Department.
The first witness called to the stand was the alleged victim along with her Spanish interpreter. She immediately identified the defendant in the courtroom as her boyfriend of six months. During the time of the incident, she was living with him in their apartment in Davis. As of currently, they are still in a relationship and are living together.
On the afternoon of Dec. 15, 2019, Guzman and his girlfriend were arguing outside their apartment complex. Guzman was supposedly upset that other men were giving attention to her during their relationship. According to the alleged victim’s testimony, the verbal argument never escalated into a physical altercation.
The only physical contact the witness testified to is Guzman grabbing her shoulders and shirt to keep her from getting into the car and driving away. Despite not having a California driver’s license, she wanted to drive off to meet with a female friend. Guzman held her back from doing so and has previously objected to her driving.
According to the witness, three tenants of the complex showed up and began to intervene. One man tried to get in between the two and ended up pulling Guzman off of the girlfriend. He pushed Guzman to the ground while the two other bystanders pulled the victim into one of their apartments. At that point, they called the police.
The witness testified to speaking to the police and then having her photos taken. At the time of the incident, she did not want to speak to the officers and refused any protective services, for she did not think it was necessary.
The prosecution proceeded to show the alleged victim the photographs of her from the day of the incident. She confirmed that the photos are of her but insists that the bruises on her neck are hickeys rather than strangulation marks. She denies ever being held in a chokehold by the defendant.
As the alleged victim left the courtroom, Judge Timothy Fall quietly commented that her voice sounded “hoarse.”
The next testimony was heard from Davis Police Officer Morgan Hatcher, who was dispatched to Cambridge House on December 15.
Parked near the pool, she testified to seeing an individual dressed in white jump a yard fence. After stating her position as an officer, the suspect began to walk away from her. She then asked him to get on the ground, with which he complied, and then she proceeded to handcuff him. He was eventually put into a patrol vehicle.
Officer Hatcher later went toward the neighbor’s apartment where the alleged victim was. She recalled that the victim did not want to come downstairs and required “coaxing” from the neighbors.
Once the victim came downstairs, she was observed to be in tears and had a look of fear. She was hesitant to speak with the police. Officer Hatcher noted scratches and blood spots on her hands.
The next witness was Officer Leo Gonzalez. What he testified to in court was on account of what one of the bystanders told him that day. According to them, they witnessed the defendant grab the girlfriend’s neck and strangle her. At one point, he pinned her to her car and then to the ground, as she repeatedly yelled, “Help me!”
After a while, the victim began gasping for breath and was unable to yell out for help. As the bystanders attempted to aid her, the defendant told them to step away.
The final witness to testify, Officer Joshua Helton, has been in his position for 14 years at the Davis Police Department. He spent a couple of minutes during his testimony, explaining his training and qualifications in being able to investigate strangulations.
According to the officer, strangling does not always produce physical marks. He also mentioned that victims of strangulation are 750 times more likely of becoming a homicide victim than others.
Officer Helton recalled seeing the alleged victim crying. She denied any hoarseness to her voice and said she just did not feel well.
After the witness exited the room, it was notified that Guzman has no criminal history with felony offenses.
An arraignment is scheduled for February 27 at 9 am.