Domestic Violence with Mop? Judge Reduces Charges, Suggests Prosecution Re-Consider Case after Mother Denies Argument with Son Was Serious

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By Alan Vargas 

VENTURA, CA – Judge Ryan J. Wright reduced domestic violence charges, and suggested the prosecution re-consider the case against Robert Barba here in Ventura County Superior Court late last Friday after the defendant’s mother said she may have exaggerated claims of a fight with her son where she used a mop to stop him.

Barba initially faced one count of assault with a deadly weapon—the mop—and one count of vandalism after a physical dispute between him and his mother, the alleged victim. 

According to the victim, in her testimony, she mentioned “because I am the mother, I wanted to have the last word,” as she tried to justify the dispute that transpired between her and her son, which led to the defendant’s arrest.

When the judge asked the victim if the defendant had left during their altercation, the victim told the judge how “he left the room for a little bit, and then again we were just having a power struggle.”

Judge Wright then asked the victim to further explain what she meant by “power struggle,” and the victim explained that “the power struggle” led her to grab a mop which, she admitted, she used to kick her son out of her house. 

The victim added “the mop was outside on the side of the house by the kitchen, so I went over there, I got the mop, and I came over to where he was to get him out of the living room like a typical Latina mother.”

When Peace Officer Alberto Castellanos arrived at the scene, the victim mentioned that nothing was wrong with her, and that she did not require medical attention. She told the officer, “Don’t call the ambulance, I am fine, I am not afraid.” 

Later she confessed that she had initiated the argument by hitting the defendant with a mop. 

However, as soon as she admitted to hitting the defendant with the mop, she corrected herself and went on to explain, “I didn’t strike him, I was just trying to make him go outside, but I didn’t strike him, I did not hit him.”

The defendant proceeded to attempt to defend himself because he thought his mother was going to hit him with the mop. The victim further mentioned that she and the defendant got physically closer to one another through all the commotion that was occurring, and proceeded to move to the hallway.

When asked if she had moved to a place where her back was against the wall, the victim mentioned, “Yes, my back was against the wall, but I was not pinned to the wall, but that’s what I exaggerated when I talked to the cop.

“Again, we were both struggling with the mop because we were having a power struggle. He did not pin me to the wall, he did not pin me to the wall,” the victim said, adding, “I was upset like I am now because I have to do this when I wanted this to go away. He (officer) said (it lasted) something like 24-30 seconds, and I said yeah maybe.” 

When asked if the defendant had used the mop to push it against her throat, she answered by saying, “NO.” 

Toward the end of her testimony, the victim was not aware that “this was going to happen.” She then said, “Had I known I would not have said a word, I thought I was going to have a peace officer show up to my house and defuse the situation, not build a case.” 

After the defendant had left the house, the victim testified that he had broken a window in the door. “I didn’t see it, but I think he used his fist, that’s what I told the police.” 

She recalled saying to the officer that her son had grabbed her with the mop, but she said, “I did say that, I do remember saying that, and that was not the truth. I was too embarrassed to tell him that I am the one that went to get the mop.” She also mentioned that she did not have a reason to be using the mop because the house was clean. 

After the victim gave her testimony, Sheriff’s Deputy Alberto Castellanos from the Ventura County Sheriff’s office said the victim told him that during the altercation that the defendant began to make derogatory statements and yelled at her, which led her to go the kitchen to grab a mop. 

Castellano added that, according to the testimony that was given by the victim, the defendant had approached the victim and then used the mop to press her against the wall by placing pressure in her neck, and she believed she was going to lose consciousness.

After hearing the testimony of the victim, the officer said he conducted what’s called a “strangulation protocol form” and asked the victim on the scale from one to ten how much force she believed was use,d which she described was about a seven.

Furthermore, an officer outside of the home saw the defendant outside the house, which “looked like he had an angry demeanor from his face.” The officer had his taser ready for use, but did not point it at him. 

The defendant allegedly did not comply with the officer’s request to stand down and get on the ground. After giving the first command, the officer gave him another command, and Barba, again, did not comply until Officer Castellanos’s partner arrived at the scene and told him to put his hands behind his back, and then Barba conceded. 

The defendant admitted to the officer about the vandalism that he had caused pertaining to the broken glass, as well as mentioning that he would never put his hands on his mother.

After listening to the victim’s testimony and the officer’s testimony, Judge Ryan J. Wright granted the 17(b) motion, and reduced the matter to a misdemeanor. He also urged the DDA to reexamine the case based on the victim’s questionable and fluctuating testimony. 

The defendant must show up to court again on July 19 for pretrial in Division 37 at 1:30 p.m., and a jury trial is Aug. 2 in Division 14 at 9 a.m. 

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About The Author

Koda is an incoming senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.

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