Sacramento Judge Needs Time to Fashion Sentence to Prevent Future Domestic Violence

By Kelsey Kitzke

SACRAMENTO – Sacramento County Superior Court saw a debate late last week over whether to release a man serving a jail sentence for various domestic violence related incidences, with all parties being asked to weigh what is best for the defendant, the victims, and the community.

Jeremiah Kittle arrived at court in custody for two misdemeanor convictions, one for violating the terms of a protective order for his ex-wife and the other for destroying the windshield of a car belonging to his ex-wife and her boyfriend.

Over the course of the hearing, set to decide whether Kittle should remain in custody or be released early, details emerged of Kittle’s tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife including threats, domestic violence, and property damage.

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Clark also cited information provided by the victims, Kittle’s ex-wife and her boyfriend, about numerous incidents of property damage (including arson to their home) that they believe to be connected to Kittle and have apparently stopped since Kittle was taken into custody.

Kittle has a daughter with his ex-wife; the district attorney labeled “his obsession with his daughter” as the main “trigger” of Kittle’s behavior.

Before hearing arguments from counsel, presiding Judge Michael Sweet allowed the defendant to speak about how he has changed for the better and what assurances he can offer the court as to why he would not repeat past concerning behaviors.

Taking the floor, Kittle said that he wants to have a healthy father/daughter relationship, offered that he would attend parenting and/or anger management classes, and simply promised the court that he would not repeat his previous mistakes.

Seemingly unsatisfied with Kittle’s answer, Judge Sweet noted that they have “been in this cycle before,” referring to broken restraining orders and dangerous behavior towards his ex-wife. Judge Sweet, addressing Kittle, said “if you can’t alter your behavior I have to do my best to alter it for you.”

How exactly the court could best alter Kittle’s behavior was what was up for debate between DDA Clark and Kittle’s attorney.

The defense noted that there are ways for the court to monitor Kittle, GPS location monitors, anger management classes, and parenting classes. Kittle’s attorney also reasoned that releasing Kittle under court orders would allow the court to have a “longer hold on him”—implying that giving Kittle a longer leash allows him and the court the chance to apply behavior-changing measures within a real world context.

DDA Clark disagreed, noting continuing concerns from the victims and the lack of evidence that Kittle has taken any substantial action to change his behavior. Without any changes to his behavior and the same triggers in place, Clark argued that there is no reason to expect different outcomes from Kittle.

Judge Sweet seemed to understand both perspectives as he contemplated how Kittle’s behavior could be reformed to create a safer environment for his ex-wife and daughter.

Ultimately, while Judge Sweet agreed with the defense by saying he did not believe Kittle should serve the entirety of his term, he made it clear that Kittle would not be released.

Instead, the matter was continued, allowing for Judge Sweet to fashion something that would allow the defendant to continue his life while maintaining individual and community safety.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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