By Neha Malhi, Julietta Bisharyan and Alan Vargas
SACRAMENTO, CA — After receiving an offer from the prosecutor to reduce his felony domestic violence charge to a misdemeanor, defendant Jason Burns declined, and pleaded not guilty to a charge, about a year after the alleged incident occurred.
Burns was charged with the count of domestic violence and faced a preliminary hearing at Sacramento County Superior Court last week alongside his attorney, Damien Jovel.
The alleged domestic abuse occurred on Jun. 14, 2020, between a couple of 19-year-olds, where defendant Burns allegedly struck his girlfriend in the face several times after a verbal argument escalated.
Deputy District Attorney Mitch Miller presented Deputy Paul Hoffman as a witness in the court, who was dispatched on June 14, 2020, around 9:20 p.m. after he got a 911 call regarding domestic violence.
According to Hoffman, when he arrived at the location of the alleged victim’s apartment, he and his partner heard a verbal argument between the couple. When he walked inside the apartment, he noticed dried blood on the victims’ chin and her right nostril.
The victim also had a quarter inch laceration on the inside of her upper lip, he said, and, according to the victim, she and her boyfriend got into a verbal argument after he started drinking. When this argument escalated, he punched her in the face more than once.
Deputy Hoffman stated that, at the time, the victim did not want to press any charges, and refused to seek medical help or any help related to the domestic abuse.
When defense attorney Jovel asked Hoffman if he recorded his conversation with the victim or took any photos on that day, he stated that he did not have any recording. He also did not contact CSI as the victim refused to be photographed.
He did, however, take one photo of the victim holding her inner lip, showing the inside laceration, with his department issued camera.
Initially, defense counsel wanted to push back the trial date of the preliminary hearing on the grounds that Burns wanted to have more time to consider the offer given by the prosecutor.
However, Judge Helena R. Gweon refused the request because it had already been delayed for a year and the defendant had enough time to think about the offer given by the prosecutor.
The judge reminded defendant Burns that the prosecutor’s offer to reduce his charge to a misdemeanor will not be offered again after he enters a not guilty plea.
“That was a good offer if he actually committed these acts, but he’s claiming his innocence and in that case we have to go forward,” Jovel said.
At the end of the hearing, Burns waived his formal arraignment and entered a not guilty plea. He is scheduled to appear in court again for his trial Aug. 9.
Neha is graduating from UCLA this summer with an Economics degree. She is from Los Angeles, California.
Julietta Bisharyan is a fourth-year student at UC Davis, currently majoring in English and minoring in Art History and Professional Writing. She is from South San Francisco.
Alan Vargas is a third-year transfer student at UCLA, majoring in Political Science and English. He is from San Jose, Ca
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