By Marilin Ayon
RIVERSIDE, CA – In the first day of witness testimony in a jury trial here Tuesday, the victim of domestic violence seemed to suggest she wants her alleged abuser, Clyde Robert Johnson, “to hang,” but later in Riverside County Superior Court declared she would not want to see the defendant dead because, as a nurse, she “does not wish death upon anyone.”
On Feb. 17, 2020, Clyde Johnson was arrested and charged with inflicting corporal injury on his wife, identified here as the “victim.”
During the preliminary hearing of this trial, the Deputy District Attorney Sam Taloa presented photographic evidence of the victim’s black eye caused by Johnson.
Despite the severity of the case, the victim had allegedly acted calm throughout the whole legal procedure, leading DDA Taloa to ask the victim to “explain to the jury just why you appear to be composed and have not been, you know, emotional?”
The victim took this opportunity to disclose her emotions by declaring that “nobody knows what I’ve been going through internally…I have been emotional. I have cried. I haven’t slept for months and months…not to mention I am also on anxiety medication as well.”
This declaration preceded the DDA’s question, “As you sit here now, do you fear the defendant?”
The victim firmly answered, “I do.” When she was asked to share what she feared the defendant would do to her, she stated, “I fear that he will kill me.”
With this compelling declaration, DDA Taloa ended his questioning, giving Assistant Public Defender Jeff Hurwitz his turn to cross-examine the witness.
PD Hurwitz wanted to know about the victim’s assertive and unambiguous use of language as a consequence of her job as a supervising nurse who works with terminal patients. The witness agreed that she has to be careful and clear in the words that she uses.
The victim’s unambiguous language was used by defense counsel Hurwitz to emphasize that she wished harm to the defendant.
When asked, “You want Mr. Johnson to hang, isn’t that right?” and the victim unhesitantly answered, “Yes, I do.” Therefore, based on her previous statements, this declaration appeared clear and intentional.
However, when asked, “When you say hang, you want him to be hanged as in to be killed, correct?”
The victim declared that she “absolutely [did] not” mean she wanted the defendant killed. She explained that “it [hanged] was actually said as a slang term, not to be killed. I am a nurse, I would never want anyone to be killed.”
When asked to define her use of the word “hang” by the public defender, the victim testified that to her, “hang means I want him to be punny dead.” In an attempt to make herself clear, the victim stated, “I’m a nurse, yes, and I support life and to save life, not to kill or do harm to anyone.”
Despite her testimony of not wishing harm on anyone, the victim was questioned by PD Hurwitz about whether she ever stated she wanted Johnson to be incapacitated. After she answered with “no,” Hurwitz proceeded to present the witness with an email she sent to Deputy District Attorney Sylwia Luttrell on Aug. 20, 2020.
In this email, the victim stated she wanted the defendant, Clyde Johnson, “incapacitated.” The email also included statements from the victim that she wanted to see Johnson in a wheelchair, with right-sided weakness, and with left-sided weakness.
When questioned about why she wished harm on the defendant despite stating that, as a nurse, she would not wish harm on anyone, the victim stated, “I just wish that he wasn’t well enough to hurt anyone,” noting she wished harm on Johnson “in a sense.”
The jury trial for Clyde Robert Johnson is ongoing this week.