COURT WATCH: Complex Legal Battle Unfolds at Trial – Accused Raises Issues of Theft, Unethical Conduct, Domestic Violence by Victim … Judge Dismisses Accusations

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LOS ANGELES- CA, MARCH 2: Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse March 2, 2004 in Los Angeles Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

By Jenna Tooley

LOS ANGELES, CA – During the unfolding of a trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court here, layers of legal complexities emerged when the defense raised issues of theft, unethical conduct and domestic violence by the alleged victim.

Charges against the accused include mayhem, injuring spouse or cohabitant with the allegation of great bodily injury, aggravated mayhem and dissuading a witness from prosecuting a crime.

During the trial proceedings, the husband of the accused, who is the alleged victim, took the witness stand under examination by Deputy District Attorney Karen Montoya, and confirmed he had purchased a vehicle using the accused’s funds without her consent while she was in custody.

However, Judge Joseph Burghardt expressed uncertainty about the nature of the transaction, stating, “It’s confusing to me…not clear that it’s a theft…the court is going to exclude it.”

Amid the backdrop of the victim’s testimony, the accused expressed her desire to present additional evidence against him, stating “I want to testify.”

During cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Louis Sepe also confirmed with the victim there was a complaint filed by the state bar association against him and it was true he “didn’t start cooperating fully to testify until he went inactive as an attorney in the state of California…it goes to his credibility and motive” according to DPD Sepe.

The accused continued to raise issues about the victim to the court and Judge Burghardt stated the accused’s statements would be “excluded in the People’s case…if you testify then it may become relevant.”

The accused further stated “he (the victim) stole the Range Rover and my title and broke into my premises…broke my phone with private evidence…total disregard of the restraining order…he kept my first phone and destroyed my phone with photos of my injuries.”

But, Judge Burghardt said, “at this point, it’s not relevant.”

The court was told the victim and the accused met at a courthouse where the victim previously worked. DPD Sepe, in his opening statement, said “(the victim) solicited the accused, which is unethical under California state law, as an attorney.” The victim was previously an active attorney in the state of California but is now only currently active in Washington, DC.

During the July 11, 2018, incident when the victim completely lost his vision in his left eye, DPD Sepe recalls the events prior to the incident.

DPD Sepe noted the accused and the victim were out at a restaurant and the victim was “slightly intoxicated, acting rude, and got into a boisterous argument with the waitress… then grabbed the accused.”

On the night of the incident, DPD Sepe noted the accused saw the victim “lying on the floor and was bleeding out of his eye and rushed him to the emergency room.”

Deputy Public Defender Sepe highlighted the victim’s credibility issues, revealing a complaint had been filed against him by the state bar association. DPD Sepe also emphasized the victim’s delayed cooperation until he ceased to practice law in California.

Despite the accused’s pleas and allegations of theft, vandalism and a restraining order violation, Judge Burghardt maintained that such statements were currently deemed irrelevant to the case and DDA Montoya would be permitted to recall the victim.

The trial is ongoing.

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About The Author

Jenna Tooley is a third-year senior studying Political Science with a concentration in American Politics and minors in Global Studies and Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has a passion for social justice and advocacy work and intends on pursuing Law School in the very near future, with a potential specialization in Criminal Law in aims of dismantiling the stigma around incarcerated people and addressing the root causes of recidvism to provides incarcerated people resources and rehabilitation to independently function upon re-entry into society. Outside of her advocacy work she enjoys traveling and sightseeing, aborbing the ambiance of coffee shops, and thifting as a form of self-care.

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