By Linh Nguyen and Maxwell C. Myrhum
WOODLAND – A West Sacramento man faced a preliminary hearing on six charges, including three counts of violence inflicted on the complaining witness.
The defendant, Benjamin Darling, is being held on three counts of contempt of court, one count of felony infliction of corporal injury, one count of threat to commit a crime of severe corporal injury or death, and one count of battery against a person in a dating relationship. His ex-girlfriend of five on-and-off years, “AC”, is the complaining witness who testified to the charges of violence from incidents occurring in January 2020.
There were multiple and separate incidents for which AC testified. In all incidents, Darling was allegedly actively threatening to harm her or take her life. It was only during the last incident that the complaining witness involved law enforcement.
In the first incident, what began as a verbal altercation between AC and Darling escalated to where she said Darling was getting physically violent with her. This allegedly happened on the loveseat in the West Sacramento house where they were living.
AC does not remember how she ended up lying on the loveseat, but she testified to Darling hitting her on the right side of her head on her temple. She told him to stop, saying that something was wrong. AC also said that there were marks on her head that resulted from the violence of that incident.
The prosecutor proceeded to ask AC to identify herself in the photos that the police took of her, showing marks and bruising. AC got emotional looking at the photos. She briefly testified through tears before the prosecutor allowed her to ease her emotions and “shake it out.”
AC did not call the police during this incident because Darling allegedly told her not to. She internally foresaw that it may not have been wise; however, she did not think it was best for her safety and she was scared of the consequences.
The next incident occurred the following day at around 3:30 am. Darling allegedly hit AC again on the head, leaving her with a headache and a stinging and burning feeling on the head. She does not recall if that hit had visible marks.
After that, AC ran away from him into her car and hid in there. Darling found her and berated her from outside the car, demanding that she unlock the door. AC refused and remained in her car for approximately an hour. This was when Darling appeared calm before coaxing her out of the car. However, AC said his mannerisms changed back to aggressive once she unlocked the door. AC said Darling allegedly threatened to kill her children.
The next incident occurred when AC said she was ready to leave the residence. She packed her bags the night before and went to sleep. AC was awoken to Darling allegedly punching her. AC called 911 as she ran away down the street, with Darling allegedly chasing her on a bike.
The police arrived, took AC’s statement and took pictures of her sustained injuries.
The second time law enforcement was called was a few days later. This time, when AC called the police, she had Darling in a chokehold to restrain him before the police arrived. She testified to having armed herself with a kitchen knife at some point in the night. Despite having Darling restrained and being armed, AC did not physically harm Darling.
When the defense attorney questioned the witness, she raised her voice at the witness.
The prosecution then called up two separate officers to provide witness testimony.
Officer David Asaro of the West Sacramento Police Department was first questioned about his involvement with the complaining witness on the night of January 18.
Officer Asaro provided the court with insight on the statement taken from the complaining witness on that night. AC provided a statement to the officer that she and the defendant had been involved in several arguments over the previous few days, some allegedly resulting in physical harm. The extent of alleged injuries included marks on AC’s head and face, of which Officer Asaro took and documented photographs.
The complaining witness also described to the officer how she had feared for her life the evening that the police were called, such that she had armed herself with a knife for protection, but did not use it.
Officer Kenslee Viera of the West Sacramento Police Department was then brought to be questioned about his involvement with the complaining witness and defendant in the early morning of January 21.
Officer Viera first described the statement he collected from AC that morning. The complaining witness, described as very distraught from the events that occurred, told the officer how she had arrived home to the defendant and a friend being at her house. AC then went to bed, only to be woken up in the early morning by an alleged punch from Darling.
AC elaborated about the defendant’s demeanor on that night, as he was allegedly close to her face with his teeth clenched and lips pursed while belittling her. However, this was unclear from the complaining witness as to whether or not this was in reference to that evening or another incident.
The officer’s interaction with Darling was then illustrated to the court. Officer Viera noted smelling alcohol from the defendant.
Darling told the officer that AC allegedly gets upset when things do not go her way, and, after she had asked for a cigarette, he threw the pack at her. Also, Darling explained that AC had allegedly wrapped a metal pipe in plastic and hit herself with it a few nights earlier, but this pipe was not searched for or found because this information was given to the officer much later at the station.
When questioned about the welfare call and approach of the residence, Officer Vieras explained to the court that he and other officers responding had announced themselves six to seven times over the course of five minutes before Darling came to the front door.
Judge Dave Rosenberg found there to be sufficient evidence for Benjamin Darling to answer for the charges, and an arraignment is set for February 20 at 10:00 am.