After battering Eliana Lopez in front of their young child, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi then “isolated” his wife to keep her from reporting the abuse, but she escaped at her first chance to tearfully tell a neighbor what happened, prosecutors alleged Monday.
Prosecutors are laying the legal groundwork to introduce in trial “spontaneous” statements by Lopez to neighbor Ivory Madison and, later, another neighbor. They also hope to introduce a video Madison made of Lopez discussing the incident.
Mirkarimi’s lawyer, who is expected to challenge the admissibility of that evidence, didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday. Both Mirkarimi and Lopez have publicly denied the New Year’s Eve incident constituted abuse. A trial on three misdemeanor counts is scheduled for Feb. 24.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Aguilar Tarchi wrote in a motion that Lopez confided in Madison “at the first available opportunity … before there was time to contrive or misrepresent,” on New Year’s morning, about 18 hours after the alleged domestic violence incident began.
According to Tarchi, Lopez threatened to call police after the incident and Mirkarimi apologized and asked her not to. Lopez was then “isolated in the apartment with her batterer until she found an opportunity to visit her friend and neighbor,” Tarchi said.
Lopez had no contact during that time with anyone beside her son and husband, Tarchi said.
“He kept her silent, kept her from telling anyone, and kept her behind closed doors,” Tarchi wrote. But when Mirkarimi took a shower, Tarchi said, “only minutes passed” before Lopez fled their apartment to confide in Madison.
“This moment of inattention was the first opportunity to get away from her abuser,” Tarchi wrote.
“Within a minute, the victim broke down in tears and told Ms. Madison why she was so upset,” Tarchi wrote, adding that Lopez was described as “holding it together” until she mentioned the fight.
The video allegedly depicts a bruise on Lopez’s arm. Tarchi wrote that the recording shows an “obviously distraught” Lopez, crying and her voice cracking “when she mentions the defendant’s threats to take away her son.”
Late last week, prosecutors subpoenaed the couple’s phone records, as well as photos taken by the San Francisco Chronicle on May 3, 2011, the day Mirkarimi announced his run for sheriff. A photo taken that day shows Lopez with an apparent scratch on her arm. The District Attorney’s Office declined comment on the subpoenas.
Prosecutors say Lopez also told neighbors that Mirkarimi physically abused her in March 2011.
Newly-elected Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanors stemming from an alleged dispute at his home on New Year’s Eve. If convicted, the sheriff could face up to one year in jail and three year’s probation.
Domestic violence battery, for the alleged dispute
Child endangerment, for couple’s son witnessing the alleged incident.
Dissuading a witness, for dissuading his wife from reporting the abuse or assisting in subsequent investigation
Source: District Attorney’s Office