Recently, Steven R. Hunter went to trial on a Domestic Battery charge with an outcome of Not Guilty. On paper, the case looked bad. The defendant was at the home of his ex-girlfriend at 11:30 p.m., the prosecution had taken photos of her injuries, and her son's statement to the police was that he pulled the defendant off of his mother as he stood over her, pinning her to the ground.
The strategy we employed to win the case involved explaining all of the facts that appeared bad, and refuting the testimony of the ex-girlfriend and her son.
The defense established that the defendant was at his ex-girlfriend's house at 11:30 at night at her request. She worked for the defendant as a care-giver for his mother, and she had requested that he take care of her that day so that she could go to a family party. Next, the defense proved that the defendant had cheated on the ex-girlfriend, and when she caught him, he dumped her.
This did not make the defendant look like such a nice person, but it showed that she was the one with the motive to be angry and to lie, not him. When this was made clear on cross-examination, the ex-girlfriend lied and claimed that the defendant was in a rage because he was drunk and high when he came over. The defense proved this was not true by calling the arresting officer as a defense witness.
Normally, police are not helpful witnesses for the defense, but Steven R. Hunter was thoroughly prepared and knew the police reports inside and out. He knew the officer would agree with his report. Therefore, the officer testified that the defendant did not resist arrest, and appeared to be sober and straight. In addition, the officer testified that he arrested the defendant behind the wheel of his car, but there was no DUI charge.
This created a direct conflict between the testimony of a police officer and the complaining witness. When the defendant testified that his ex-girlfriend, who was much larger than he was, hit him in the head, ripped his earring out of his ear, and tackled him, he had more creditability than the complaining witness because his testimony was consistent with that of the police.
The defense also established the ex-girlfriend's anger by showing that she had twice followed the defendant to his new girlfriends home in a suburban town, corroborated the defendant's injuries with testimony from the police officer and the defendant's son, on cross-examination got the ex-girlfriend's son to admit he did not see how the fight started, and showed that the injuries in the photos were bruises to her forearms and leg, which were consistent with the defendant's description of how he defended himself.
The result was a finding of Not Guilty.