By Gwynneth Redemann
MERCED, CA – A domestic abuse victim testified Tuesday in Merced County Superior Court against her ex-husband, Jose Chavez, who’s charged in a 2017 domestic abuse incident for allegedly punching her multiple times and threatening to “firebomb” her residence.
After intense questioning by Chavez’s attorney Tuesday, the victim starting bleeding and the trial halted for the day.
According to the arguments laid out in the opening statement by the lead prosecuting attorney, Kathryn Gates, on Feb. 2, 2017, Chavez started punching the victim during a car ride home from a house party and threatened to “firebomb” her parents’ home.
The victim had gone to a small house party at an acquaintance’s house on Feb. 2 to play cards and drink alcohol. A little while after the victim had arrived, her ex-husband Chavez showed up at the party as well.
The victim claimed that she did not talk to Chavez at all during the party until he “dragged her by the hair” outside and eventually into his truck.
According to the victim’s testimony, she did not willingly go with Chavez. During the car ride, Chavez forced the victim to show him her phone to see if she was talking to any other guys or seeing anyone.
After a struggle between Chavez and the victim over the phone, the victim said Chavez started punching her as he continued driving. When Chavez eventually dropped the victim off at her parents’ house, she claimed to have called the police to make a report about the assault.
The next day, Feb 3, Chavez allegedly drove to the victim’s parents’ house where she was living at the time and demanded various important paperwork that he believed she had. After she insisted that she did not have any of his paperwork, Chavez allegedly continued pounding on the front door and vandalizing the outside of the house, trying to get inside.
Chavez, said the victim, then went to the side door of the house and broke through the door, eventually entering the kitchen of the home. After what the victim claimed to be “10 minutes or so” of arguing with Chavez, she and her father insisted that he leave, explaining that the police had been called.
Chavez then left the residence, and the victim and her father made a police report to the responding officer. During this vandalism report, the responding officer noticed bruising on the victim’s face and asked her about it. The victim said the bruises had come from Chavez punching her the previous night.
During her testimony, the victim was visibly upset and cried on multiple occasions. She also seemed to have trouble remembering the specifics of the incidents that took place on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3. The lead prosecutor had to show her previous statements from 2019 to help her recall various details from those nights.
When the victim was asked why she was nervous and why she felt emotional, the victim stated that “it’s been a long time and I have to be here today and remember these things that I tried to forget.”
The victim also noted Chavez had physically abused her throughout their relationship and that she was genuinely afraid of the threats he made that night.
During the cross-examination by Defense Attorney Christopher Loethen, he questioned the victim’s recollection of the incidents that had occurred and pointed to inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony, asking the victim “how much she had to drink that night” and whether she had a “drinking problem in 2017?”
Despite her denying any allegations of alcohol issues or drug abuse, Loethen referenced a recent Facebook post in which the victim revealed that she has had severe health issues with her liver and gallbladder.
Loethen pointed out the differences in her testimonies regarding how much she had to drink that night. The victim conceded, stating that she cannot remember the exact number of beers she drank.
Loethen continued to pick apart the victim’s testimony, noting that on the night of Feb. 2, there had been no police report filed against Chavez, after the alleged assault and threatening of the victim.
The victim responded, “I’m getting so confused by these dates. Maybe it was on Feb. 3,” thus changing her statement about when she talked to an officer about the assault.
Loethen asked about the night of Feb. 2 and whether anyone at the party had seen the victim “dragged by the hair” by Chavez into his truck.
The victim appeared to be unsure about many of the questions Loethen asked about the night and repeated that she “didn’t know,” or “didn’t remember.”
The trial came to an abrupt halt when the victim said she was bleeding from what looked to be the side of her body. Judge Ronald Hansen called for an immediate break and the cross-examination was paused. The health status of the testifying victim is unknown.
The trial is set to reconvene Wednesday in Merced Superior Court, Courtroom 2.