A judge ruled Monday that the statements of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s wife to neighbor Ivory Madison the day after an alleged New Year’s Eve domestic violence incident, as well as a video made by Madison of a tearful Lopez showing a bruise on her arm and discussing the incident, can be admitted by prosecutors at trial.
Judge Garrett Wong’s ruling is a huge victory for the prosecution, especially because Lopez later publicly denied there was any abuse and may refuse to testify.
Defense attorneys said they were disappointed by the ruling but pledged to push forward and win the case at trial.
Mirkarimi, 50, has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. Prosecutors allege he grabbed and bruised the arm of his wife Eliana Lopez, 36, during an argument in which the couple’s 2-year-old son was present on New Year’s Eve. Mirkarimi later allegedly asked Lopez not to report the incident to police.
At issue Monday was whether Lopez’s statements, made to her friend and neighbor Madison the next morning, nearly 20 hours later, were spontaneous or, as Mirkarimi’s attorneys claim, a calculated attempt to establish a case against Mirkarimi in a possible child custody battle.
Wong ruled the statements and the video “were sufficiently spontaneous and related to the incident” to fall into an exception in the law about hearsay.
“The issue here is the mental state of the speaker,” Wong said. He said he reviewed the videotape on Friday.
“The evidence shows that this is a woman who is still crying and visibly upset the following day,” Wong said. He added that on the video, Madison was not prompting Lopez “to make self-serving statements.”
“Her immediate thoughts for her son are clearly ... instinctive,” Wong said.
The judge is continuing to weigh whether evidence can be admitted of similar alleged behavior by Mirkarimi against a previous girlfriend, Christina Flores, who came forward after the case was made public.