Not Guilty Verdict: Felony Domestic Violence Terrorizing

domestic violence terrorizing jury box in Maine courtDomestic violence terrorizing charges are taken very seriously in Maine. In this case, the District Attorney was demanding prison time, the victim cooperated with the prosecution and was willing to testify at trial. My client maintained his innocence and refused to plead guilty. We had a jury trial in York County Superior Court in Alfred, Maine and got a not guilty verdict.

Domestic Violence Terrorizing Charge Elevated to Felony

My client was prosecuted for violating 17-A §210B. The State tried to prove that he:

  1. Made a threat to commit a crime of violence dangerous to human life,
  2. Which put someone in reasonable fear that the crime would be committed, and
  3. That the victim and defendant were family or household members.

My client had a prior conviction for Domestic Violence Assault. Even though it was years old, Maine law allowed it to increase the Domestic Violence Terrorizing Charge to a class C felony. The possible sentences included 5 years in prison and 2 years of probation.

Witness Credibility

The victim and my client had dated for about a year and the relationship ended badly. Some months after the breakup, the victim claimed to have been contacted with online instant messages. She said the messages were sent from my client’s screen name and they threatened to kill her. She reported this to police but did not provide copies of any messages. The victim had a serious history of substance abuse and mental illness including multiple personality disorder, hallucinations and suicide attempts.

Police Failed to Investigate

The police took the victim’s statement and submitted the case for prosecution. It was only months later that they got subpoenas for google and other internet companies and a warrant for my client’s computer. By that time, any information that might have existed was gone. The only thing they could confirm was that my client had used the screen name in question.

Evidence at Trial

I had to decide how to approach the police witnesses. I initially planned to attack them for failing to investigate until months after the initial report. I could argue that if they had acted sooner, they would have found records confirming that my client never sent these messages. In the end, I decided to take a different approach. I asked questions to develop that the detectives had years of experience, had special equipment and training to investigate computer crimes and had all the resources of the state at their disposal. Using all their knowledge, resources and experience, they served multiple subpoenas and warrants and developed absolutely zero evidence to confirm anything the victim was saying.

The victim’s testimony was the prosecutions key evidence. I had researched her background extensively and learned the names of some of her alternate personalities  The first thing I asked her was, “Who are Susan, and Karen, and Lucy?” She was forced to admit that those were the names of some of her alternate personalities. She went on to testify about a history of heroin use, auditory and visual hallucination, other delusions, suicide attempts. She admitted that she experiences things that do not exist in reality an that she responds to those things in real ways.

The Case Goes to the Jury

In closing argument, I told the jury that the detectives were experienced professionals, they had done a thorough investigation using multiple subpoenas and search warrants. In the end, they developed no proof of a crime and they found nothing because there was nothing to find. The jury was then left to rely entirely on the testimony of a drug addicted, mentally ill, delusional ex-girlfriend who could not distinguish between reality and hallucination.

The State was forced to argue that the detectives found nothing, not because there was nothing to find, but because they did a lousy investigation. The District Attorney argued that if they had acted sooner, they would have found the messages. They urged the jury to rely on the victim’s testimony as proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury returned a not guilty verdict within the hour.

Not Guilty Verdict: Felony Domestic Violence Terrorizing by
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