Judge Tells Accused There’s ‘Too Much History’ to Reduce Felony Charge

By Daniella Dueñas

WOODLAND, CA – The accused was charged on Jan. 23 of this year with a felony after he allegedly tackled his former girlfriend to the ground, causing his ex-partner to sustain an injury, a “friction mark.”

This week, in Yolo County Superior Court, the accused lost his preliminary hearing and now faces trial after his arraignment Oct. 17 because the judge considered there was “too much history” to reduce the charges.

The story of how this incident occurred varied between the officer, Shaun Kattenhorn, the accused and even the victim.

Officer Shaun Kattenhorn testified, “When I first arrived on scene, I observed two female adults hugging one another in the middle of the street.”

He said the accused’s sister had apparently overheard a verbal argument between the accused and his ex-girlfriend and then saw him on top of her in the middle of the street. Officer Kattenhorn noted that the victim had an injury on her arm, which was emitting fresh blood.

Kattenhorn learned from the victim that she and the accused had been sitting on the porch, and the accused seemed upset by her cellphone call logs, and believed she may have been cheating on him.

The accused, according to what the officer was told, began to delete the victim’s call logs and when she asked for the phone back, he threw the phone at her. “She (told me she) decided to get up and walk away, and stated that the accused tackled her in the middle of the street,” said Officer Kattenhorn.

“And (the victim) had been drinking, correct?” inquired Deputy Public Defender Anahit Davtyan.

“Objection. Calls for speculation,” interjected Deputy District Attorney Alex O. Kian.

But the objection was not sustained by Judge Tom Dyer and the officer recalled that she might have been at the time. Davtyan continued to prod Officer Kattenhorn on the incident, asking him to specify where the victim was tackled and whether or not she had asked for medical aid. He confirmed that she did not.

“In fact, she was standing in front of you and talking to you for a while with the injury exposed, not getting any treatment for it, right?” confirmed DPD Davtyan, to which Kattenhorn confirmed.

Based on these facts and photographic evidence Davtyan submitted to the court, he argued that although the victim did sustain an injury it was not one that was serious or life-threatening.

DDA Kian referred to the accused’s rap sheet, arguing he has a history of violence and violent conduct.

DPD Davtyan responded there was no evidence of aggravation for the first point, that the accused took advantage of the position of trust and confidence.

“It’s not proper to use the bare elements of the charges to sort of use as an aggravation,” he argued. Kian countered, stating that it was proper to apply aggravating factors to this charge as domestic violence is “[…] in and of itself violent conduct. It is separate and distinct from an enhancement.”

After hearing from both attorneys, Judge Dyer agreed that for the first two points, one of the position of trust and two for being a serious danger to society, there was no evidence of aggravating factors.

However, Judge Dyer agreed that the accused’s history with violence and disorderly conduct was strong enough to prove aggravation.

The last argument produced by DPD Davtyan was a statement from the victim herself, which he was able to retrieve through an investigator. The victim had not appeared at court or spoken up regarding the incident since the evening the incident occurred.

According to Davtyan, this statement would prove to the court that this case is “[…] not as egregious as it may seem from first glance.”

The victim’s statement revealed she had indeed been unfaithful to the accused in the past and that before this incident she left for around two weeks to visit her children in Oregon which made the accused suspicious. She was upset that he was deleting her call log so she claimed to grab her cellphone and then after entering the bathroom she walked outside.

The victim allegedly said she told the accused to get away from her and that he pulled her out of the street and “bear” hugged her. This is what caused them both to fall and also how she sustained her injury.

According to the victim, she was afraid of going to jail because, in a previous incident involving the accused, the police told her that if there was another altercation they would both go to jail. This happened in November of 2021.

“I was pretty messed up from all the drinking,” DPD Davtyan read her quote aloud. “I remember exaggerating what I told them. I wanted [the accused] to be in more trouble than me because I did not want to go to jail.”

He then argued that since the victim was difficult to reach, it most likely meant that she did not necessarily want to prosecute. Furthermore, Davtyan acknowledged, that despite the accused’s history, this current case itself should be reduced to a misdemeanor because it was not as serious as it seemed to be.

DDA Kian responded, arguing the victim did not directly testify and that the statement perhaps should be examined more carefully.

“You’re also familiar with the cycle of violence and how domestic violence victims will tend to pass blame on themselves and try to minimize,” he contended, referring to the behavior of the victim the night of the incident versus the statement given months after.

Kian concluded that the defendant’s recurrent history with violence is the most compelling “tell” that he did not learn from his mistakes.

“She does have a fresh blood wound, she was tackled to the ground, a phone was thrown at her, to the point where the defendant’s own sister had to intervene,” affirmed Kian.

Judge Dyer agreed with Davtyan, that the injury sustained by the victim was not severe, but added that under jury instruction 840, traumatic condition does not discriminate between minor or serious injury, noting if it was relayed to Officer Kattenhorn that the accused tackled the victim with intent, this raises it to the “next level.”

“I think standing on its own, the case 17(b) motion (to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor) likely would be appropriate. However, there’s just too much of a history here, the accused, to reduce this to a misdemeanor today,” Judge Dyer admitted.

As a result, the Penal Code § 17(b) motion to reduce the felony charge was denied. This case was set for arraignment on the information on Oct 17.

About The Author

Daniella Dueñas is a recent graduate from the University of California, Davis. She double-majored in Political Science and Sociology, with an emphasis on law and society. Her interest is primarily in immigration law, however, she is also interested in criminal law and justice. Daniella plans to attend law school in the future, but is working towards getting a certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal program.

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