Trial Wraps Up: Cellphone Victim Said Took Blow to Head – Defendant Argues It Was Self Defense

By Tatiana Gasca

ALAMEDA, CA – Closing arguments were heard here Monday in a jury trial for defendant Jessica Ann Fleming, who is accused of willfully inflicting pain on her partner with her cellphone in a domestic violence dispute.

The Alameda County Superior Court, Dept. 113, jury trial took place as Judge Jennifer Madden finalized the charges and both prosecution and defense made final appeals to the jury. 

The incident occurred on Sept. 28, 2020, according to the alleged victim, who said the defendant had approached his home in an attempt to rekindle their relationship, although the defendant insists she confronted the victim over child custody issues.

As the conversation escalated, an altercation occurred in the kitchen over a can of beer when the victim allegedly began to flash a light in the defendant’s face, and, according to the prosecution, defendant Fleming struck the victim with her cellphone. 

Deputy District Attorney Alyssa Fielding argued, “The defendant made a choice to react in anger, in frustration, and made the choice to use her cellphone to hit the victim over the back of his head, causing him to bleed.”

Fleming testified that she reacted in self-defense, as she feared the victim would harm her. 

However, DDA Fielding pointed out that the defendant did not exhibit any behavior that would correlate to fear. A video had shown Fleming picking up a can of beer and throwing it at the victim’s bedroom door. Fleming then proceeded to throw out his belongings onto the bathroom floor. 

“Somebody who is afraid doesn’t get up and throw a beer can at the door of the person they are afraid of, and continue antagonizing them further just asking for something bad to happen,” said prosecutor Fielding, adding, “When the defendant claimed she was in fear, it’s because it’s her only way out. It’s the only way for her to justify what she did.” 

The only time the victim had touched defendant Fleming was when he bent over to pick up his phone. He was concerned that Fleming would stomp on his device and proceeded to move her aside with his forearm. 

The DDA indicated in her closing statement that the defendant should be found guilty under these circumstances because Fleming’s “self-defense” was unwarranted. 

“You don’t take a hand that has a cellphone in it and go straight down. That’s not how you push somebody away, that’s not how you get somebody to go away, that is how you hit somebody over the head with a cellphone on purpose,” argued Fielding. “Belief in future harm isn’t enough to justify using self-defense against somebody. It has to be in imminent fear of danger.” 

Fleming’s defense attorney took the time to dispute the allegations, as she declared that the defendant’s reaction was accidental.

During the altercation in the kitchen, the victim approached Fleming, went around behind her, stood close to her, and shoved a camera in front of her face, the defense claimed, and that is when the victim dropped his phone and blocked the defendant from stomping on his device. 

“Thinking that the victim might tackle her, having a flashlight from the phone in her eyes, the defendant turned quickly and went to push the victim away. She only used enough force to push him away,” maintained defense counsel, noting Fleming’s fear stemmed from the victim’s persistent harassment and being “confrontational and aggressive.” 

Fleming’s attorney said that in the living room, the victim “without warning, reached over from behind her. Grabbed the top of the beer, made contact with her body with his body. Spilled it all over her, the couch, and the phone. Then he sarcastically taunted her.”

“The evidence before you does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was anything other than an accident,” said Fleming’s defense attorney. “You can be scared and angry at the same time.”

Judge Madden read final instructions before the jury retired to deliberate. 

About The Author

Tatiana Gasca is a fourth year student at UC Berkeley, double majoring in Legal and Ethnic Studies. She is originally from Orange County, CA.

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