Defense Argues Victim’s Mental Health an Issue; Judge Still Sets Two-Felony Trial for Attacker


By Roselyn Poommai

SACRAMENTO, CA – The alleged victim testifying in a preliminary hearing here in Sacramento County Superior Court Tuesday presented a hazy memory and admitted she was taking a drug, but didn’t know what it was treating,

Despite the vague testimony, Judge Laurel White found a housemate accused of attacking the victim should stand trial.

Defendant Maurice Clark is accused of assaulting his housemate, the victim, with his fists, a plastic broom, a 15-pound weight and a metal ladder, and is facing two felony assault-related charges.

Deputy District Attorney Alison Wieder called the alleged victim to testify, who claimed that the altercation resulted from a dispute when Clark entered the victim’s room the night before and took the roommate’s beanie without permission.

Moments before the altercation became physical, the victim testified the defendant first verbally attacked them, and then initially swung at them but missed before the victim retreated. No more than 30 seconds later, the victim explained Clark followed and approached the victim, where the two housemates began wrestling.

“Kinda shocked… it shouldn’t happen because [the defendant] knew that he had did something wrong, took the hat out of my room; and it shocked me that we ended up fighting because of that, and no one helped,” said the victim about the four other housemates at the time.

The victim also mentioned that the defendant had swung at and poked them with a plastic broomstick around five times but struggled to recall other details, including what, when asked, it looked like, its size and other details.

The alleged victim’s responses were, “I don’t remember.” And the victim continued to have difficulty recalling the event’s details throughout the remainder of Wieder’s direct-examination.

“He swung five times, was hitting me maybe four times. He poked it [the broom] at me, maybe once time hit me. And then he grabbed a 15-pound weight and swung that about five times, and that hit me only one time. And then he ripped the ladder off his bunk bed and swung that at me—no, he didn’t swing it. He was pushing at me, poking, but that didn’t hit me,” described the victim.

During the cross-examination, Assistant Public Defender Anthony Crisostomo questioned whether the victim was on medication, to which the victim answered, “Yeah, Abilify.”

PD Crisostomo further dug into the victim’s mental health diagnosis, to which the victim asserted lack of awareness of their current medication’s purpose.

Crisostomo then pointed out that the injuries mentioned throughout the victim’s testimony did not match the extent of injuries reported in their original statement in the police report.

“Based on the evidence here, although I do think that there are some lapses in memory for how this event had occurred, I would say there’s probably not enough for a holding order,” Crisostomo proclaimed.

He continued, “It’s clear that both individuals in this particular circumstance have ongoing mental health—or at least diagnosed mental health problems—and [the victim] admits to taking psychotic medication.”

Judge White interrupted him, noting, “Well, Abilify, counselùthere’s no evidence about what Abilify is for. It’s used for a variety of different things, from depression to other mental health issues, so there’s just no evidence at this point of a mental health diagnosis.”

Despite the testimony’s discrepancies, Judge White later concluded that the defendant’s actions are severe beyond a misdemeanor.

She went on to note, “My problem is that a 15-pound weight thrust at someone’s chest and upper body, including the head down to the upper chest, can be quite dangerous, and the use of that as a weapon could have, but for the blocking motions of [the victim], been severe and serious.”

Judge White denied the defense’s request to reduce Clark’s alleged felony to a misdemeanor. Clark is now charged with two felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon and assault likely to produce great bodily injury.

The defendant’s jury trial is set for May 17.

Roselyn is a second-year undergraduate double-majoring in Psychological Science and Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. A native of Los Angeles, California, she is passionate about the role of human behavior in the criminal justice system.

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