COURT WATCH: Defense Argues ‘Self Defense’ for Woman Accused in Domestic Violence Case – Separately, Alleged Victim Claims Police Tasered Him

By Audrey Sawyer

WOODLAND, CA — An accused woman facing allegations of inflicting felony corporal injury on her spouse in violation of a protective order will stand trial after a preliminary hearing here last week in Yolo County Superior Court.

Separately, the alleged victim told the court that, although he was compliant with answering questions an officer asked him, the officer had used a device (later confirmed by the officer in the hearing that he only carries a taser) to shock him.

Regarding the allegations, Officer Rodolfo Godinez denied them and said that he “did not do anything, such as touch the arm to cause the shock.”

After the denial, he resumed discussing the details of the case and altercation between the accused and the alleged victim, and not about how he allegedly “shocked” the alleged victim, for what reason, and that, apparently, the alleged victim was fearful of the officer.

Previously, the accused was involved with another domestic violence case in a different county, where she had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor involving similar charges, the court was informed.

The facts presented in court said the couple had gone to a bar together, where he, the alleged victim,  started to argue with someone else at the bar. Both the accused and alleged victim had been drinking. The alleged victim then decided that it was better if they left instead of sticking around, so he went out to their car.

While the accused followed him to the car, the alleged victim stated he did not think either of them should be driving at that time, because of the amount of alcohol they had recently consumed at the bar. The alleged victim, sitting in the passenger’s seat while the accused was in the driver’s seat, noted the accused was upset at this and wanted him to drive them home at that moment.

The alleged victim then claims he reached over the passenger’s seat to remove the keys from the ignition, but the accused proceeded to yank the keys from him. After that, the alleged victim stepped out of the vehicle and kept his door open in an attempt to make her have to get out of the vehicle to stop her from driving.

The accused then damaged the windshield of the car, and the two were believed to have had physical contact, as noted by injuries seen by officers later.

The bartender/manager at this point had gone outside and inquired if the pair were all right, to which the alleged victim answered that they were not, and that the accused wanted to drive away when she “should not be driving.”

The accused at this moment told the alleged victim that if he did not feel comfortable, he ought to call the police. The alleged victim did call the police, telling the court that since he was drunk, he was simply just following orders.

When Officer Godinez arrived and asked the alleged victim what was going on, he said he did not recall whether or not he provided his ID to the officer before or after he sat down.

The alleged victim did not remember in the hearing the accused striking his head, though injuries were pointed out. The alleged victim referenced two injuries that he saw the next day, one a “red, circle mark” on his left forearm, and scratches behind his left ear and his nose, but that he was unaware of how exactly he had gotten them.

The alleged victim said the officer (who later testified on not only this case but on these allegations as well) had walked up to him, placed some sort of device on his arm, and then “shocked” him.

The alleged victim, who said that he did not want this shocking incident to happen again, was asked what was going on, to which the alleged victim had shared previous history relating to him and his wife.

He had continued by admitting that he was intoxicated so he does not remember “exactly” what he had said, but that he showed the officer the car’s windshield he alleges she had kicked from the inside of the vehicle during their altercation.

The alleged victim was then asked if he is aware officers ought to have body cameras on, and that the circumstances had made the alleged victim (according to him) fearful to the point where he started answering questions “quickly” without truly understanding what he was saying.

While the alleged victim again affirmed that he cannot remember what he said, he stressed he was afraid of being shocked again, and that he did not immediately report the officer because he had heard previous stories of others complaining about police and often thought “they should not have been drunk in the first place.”

He admitted that he had normalized it to himself, so he felt he did not have a right to complain about it.

The complaining witness/alleged victim said he wanted to answer questions “correctly” and that the shock influenced how he answered questions, because he felt as if he was not answering the questions in a way that satisfied the officer, and because he felt like he was being “punished due to the shock stick.”

Going back to the incident between husband and wife, the alleged victim confessed to having “popped her on the chin” one time.

Officer Godinez testified and said the alleged victim had clear cut signs of alcohol consumption with watery/red eyes, his breath, and slurred speech. He had asked the alleged victim to sit on the curb, and he had complied.

When inquired about the “shocking,” the officer said that they did not provide commands that were disobeyed, that he is in possession of a taser, not a shock stick, but claimed that he did not do anything such as touch the alleged victim’ arm to give him a shock.

On the subject of the case, the wife was angry her spouse/alleged victim did not let them leave, and then referenced having the head struck three times.

Dried blood was seen behind and inside the right ear of the alleged victim/witness, but not by the arm. The witness had allegedly told the officer that he did not want to incriminate his wife. The accused had confessed to the officer that she did not have any injuries and that she herself had kicked the windshield.

Deputy Public Defender Diane Zapundich asked for either a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor, or for the case to be dismissed.

DPD Zapundich argued that, based on the evidence, there ought to be “concern” as to what happened that night (as both had been drinking and details may be not entirely clear), in addition to the fact that if there was an altercation in the car, the accused’s testimony indicates that the accused was defending herself.

DPD Zapundich added, “This was not something where she would have initiated any contact to injure him, he (the alleged victim) put his hand over her mouth. I think that it is a natural reaction for her to get him off. I’d ask the court to dismiss.”

It was noted by the defense during the hearing that there is a significant height difference between the pair, with the accused about 5’2, and the alleged victim being about five inches taller.

Meanwhile, Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin argued for a holding order, charging the husband in the case is a victim of domestic violence not only for this incident, but in 2021.

The prosecutor added, “I think he contradicted himself because he told the officer that night he did not want to incriminate his wife, he is still trying to not incriminate her. He told the officer that there was an argument, she was angry enough to kick the windshield. It is not much of a stretch to think that she would be angry enough to take physical action against him.”

DDA Serafin elaborated by saying the officer had been told the alleged victim was struck three times in the head and had injuries that were bleeding, scratches by the ear, and that his testimony provided on the night of the incident to the officer ought to be seen as most factual given that he had no time to think up a story.

DDA Serafin also noted the accused’s previous 2021 misdemeanor which resulted in a protective order, arguing charges should not be reduced. The defense again pointed out that due to his level of intoxication, it is “legitimate that he would not remember some things.”

Judge Dan Wolk agreed with the prosecution, stating that while the court understands the defense counsel arguments, it ought to be left as a felony because it is a repeated offense with a court order in place.

The case will reconvene for arraignment on the charges, and to be set for trial, Nov. 2.

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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