By Eric Grammatico
ALAMEDA, CA – Although an alleged domestic violence victim wound up with a black eye and 16 stitches after incident punctuated with heavy drinking by both parties, a jury here in Alameda County Superior Court this week deadlocked and a mistrial was called.
The defendant, Jonathan Lambert, claimed his actions were in self-defense, but “Jane Doe” accused Lambert of following her to her home where he allegedly choked her, repeatedly slammed her foot in a car door, and threw her child’s skateboard in her face.
But defense attorney Brianna Frank denied the allegations that he choked Jane Doe and slammed the door on her foot. She explained that the defendant was acting in self-defense when the intoxicated victim threw a skateboard at him, and it ricocheted off his left hand and hit her in the face.
District Attorney Margaret Roe reminded the jury that the defendant and Jane Doe had been dating for several years at the time of the incident in 2019. They had just ended a shift together in food delivery when they were making their way to the defendant’s home to drop him off.
Around midnight the couple got into an argument when Lambert attempted to turn the radio down but Jane Doe “swatted” his hand away.
“The defendant responded by hitting Jane Doe so hard in the face that her earring fell out of her ear,” according to District Attorney Roe.
The victim, according to the DA, got off the freeway, pulled off to the side of the road, and ordered Lambert to exit the vehicle. He refused to do so. So, in response, she threw a cup of Pepsi at him, prompting him to abandon the vehicle.
The DDA said Jane Doe proceeded to drive home. But the defendant showed up and came up to her car where he choked her, hit her, and slammed her ankle with the car door several times. She managed to get away and limped onto the lawn.
“Now she is warding off the defendant with her keys. It’s not working. she is trying to make her way towards the porch, and he follows her,” said District Attorney Roe.
The victim said she picked up a skateboard and threw it at Lambert as a way to distract him, but, said the DA, “he smashed the skateboard in her face, and she had to get 16 stitches.
“As a result of the defendant’s actions, he is charged with one count of corporeal injury to a spouse, cohabitant, or a child’s parent,” noted District Attorney Roe.
But Lambert’s attorney had a different take.
“We are here today because on Sept. 7, 2019, in the early morning hours, Ms. Doe was drunk. She was angry and she threw a skateboard at Mr. Lambert, and, instinctively, put up his hand to block it. He pushed the skateboard away, it ricocheted off his hand and into her face. And, unfortunately, caused her severe injury,” said Lambert’s attorney.
She reminded the jury that they must also maintain the presumption that Lambert acted in self-defense and that Lambert did not intentionally and willfully harm Jane Doe. The jury must maintain that Lambert acted innocently unless direct or circumstantial evidence proves that he violated all three elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
Lambert’s attorney noted officer’s testimony where he testified that “he saw no injuries to Ms. Doe’s neck, he observed no injuries to her ankle, he observed no injuries to the left side of her face where Ms. Doe told you today she was slapped.”
Jane Doe’s credibility was then questioned after Lambert’s attorney said that Doe and Lambert drank a fifth of Hennessy on the night of the incident.
“Why does alcohol matter? Alcohol affects what you remember about the details of the night very clearly. It also plays a role here because Ms. Doe was driving under the influence,” Lambert’s attorney said.
Lambert’s attorney argued that the defendant acted in self-defense and denies the allegations that he choked her and slammed the car door on her foot. District Attorney Roe argues that enough evidence has been presented to charge Lambert with domestic violence.