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Domestic violence victims serve as reluctant witnesses

One man was acquitted and another was convicted in separate domestic violence cases in Pulaski County Circuit Court Thursday.
In both cases, Judge Colin Gibb expressed concern that the women who sought police help at the time of the incidents were reluctant witnesses when they came to court. In both cases the defendants had at least three subsequent convictions of domestic violence, with at least two of their convictions involving the same women.
“You called the police for help. I don’t know what you expect them to do if you keep going back” to 39-year-old Mark Andrew East of Fairlawn, Judge Gibb said to East’s girlfriend, Donna Bradbury.
“My suspicion is he did commit this crime … but I don’t think the Commonwealth has met its burden,” the judge said in acquitting East.
“If you come in here and say it didn’t happen, the court doesn’t have any choice but to find him not guilty,” Judge Gibb told Bradbury.
In the second case, Judge Gibb said Stephanie Leeson “testified she has no memory” of the offense because she had consumed too much alcohol. Nonetheless, the judge noted “I don’t believe a word of it.”
Gibb said he has no doubt Leeson did consume “a lot of alcohol” that night, but he also believes she remembers what happened between her and defendant Dominic Edwin Lee Brown, 24, of Pulaski. He pointed out that a written statement she made the night of the incident was “coherent.”
As for the state’s burden to prove Brown guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, Judge Gibb said, “I really don’t have any doubt about it.”
In East’s case, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Peggy Frank presented the court with photographs an officer took Nov. 30 depicting numerous bruises to Bradbury’s upper chest. The officer said Bradbury told him she wanted to obtain a protective order against East, but he discovered one was already on file.
According to statements made in court Thursday, the protective order required East to “refrain” from “committing any further acts of family abuse.” It was not an order to stay away from Bradbury.
Bradbury told the court she and East have been together about five years. She said she called police to their residence because she wanted to press charges against East for pushing her out of the way during an Oct. 26 argument. She said East was cursing her Nov. 30 and she was “kinda” afraid something might happen so she called the police.
Later in the case she insisted she testified that she wasn’t afraid something would “happen” as a result of his Nov. 30 cursing.
In response to the bruise photos, Bradbury said she has a medical condition that causes her to bruise easily. She said they were cased by East just pushing her aside so he could leave the residence. She contends she was blocking East’s effort to leave the residence.
Bradbury agreed with a summation by East’s defense attorney that East “wasn’t trying to hit you, he wasn’t trying to hurt you, he was just trying to leave.”
Asked by the prosecution why she called the police if East didn’t try to hurt her, Bradbury said, “I guess I was mad or upset. All he did was cuss me that day (Nov. 30).”
Bradbury said East served 10 days in jail as a result of the incident. When he got out of jail, she said she told him he was going to have to go on medication. She said he has been on medication ever since and “he’s a totally different man. It’s really helped.”
Frank said it is the Commonwealth’s job “to protect” victims of domestic violence. She said the fact East has prior convictions indicates Bradbury “needs protection.
“Obviously it was a concern for her that day,” Frank added. She pointed out the photographs didn’t show “just one little bruise” on Bradbury’s chest. “There are four or five bruises there,” she told the judge.
East said Bradbury got up in his face that day, so he was just trying to leave the house. He said he is a “big man” so he could have hurt the woman if he had wanted to hurt her.
He acknowledged two of his prior convictions involved situations with Bradbury.
In Brown’s case, Leeson said she and Brown have been together about six years and they have three children together. She said they had split a half-gallon of vodka that night.
She acknowledged she called the police, but she claimed not to remember calling them or anything happening between she and Brown. She also admitted writing and signing a statement saying Brown choked her, but “I don’t remember doing it.”
When Judge Gibb told her he doesn’t believe she can’t remember, Leeson said, “I’ve done a lot of things – I’ve committed crimes – when I’ve been under the influence of alcohol and drugs. She said she has been “battling” both drugs and alcohol since she was 15, but now alcohol is her only substance abuse problem.
Asked by Frank whether reading the statement would refresh her memory of what happened Oct. 24, Leeson said it probably wouldn’t.
In the statement, read to the court by Frank, Leeson indicates Brown grabbed her by the neck and said he would kill her.
On cross-examination, Leeson admitted having nine felony convictions, including embezzlement and making false statements to police.
She told the defense it is possible nothing happened that night and that she made up the allegations.
After being declared a hostile witness for the prosecution, Leeson acknowledged to Frank that she was able remember her address, home and cellular telephone numbers, social security number, her place of employment and her date of birth when she wrote her statement.
Brown denied attacking Leeson. He said they were just “drinking and whatnot” and “she just flipped out” and said she was going to call the police.
Judge Gibb delayed sentencing for Brown until after a background report is completed. Brown was allowed to remain free on bond, but he has been prohibited from leaving Virginia.

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Domestic violence victims serve as reluctant witnesses

One man was acquitted and another was convicted in separate domestic violence cases in Pulaski County Circuit Court Thursday.
In both cases, Judge Colin Gibb expressed concern that the women who sought police help at the time of the incidents were reluctant witnesses when they came to court. In both cases the defendants had at least three subsequent convictions of domestic violence, with at least two of their convictions involving the same women.
“You called the police for help. I don’t know what you expect them to do if you keep going back” to 39-year-old Mark Andrew East of Fairlawn, Judge Gibb said to East’s girlfriend, Donna Bradbury.
“My suspicion is he did commit this crime … but I don’t think the Commonwealth has met its burden,” the judge said in acquitting East.
“If you come in here and say it didn’t happen, the court doesn’t have any choice but to find him not guilty,” Judge Gibb told Bradbury.
In the second case, Judge Gibb said Stephanie Leeson “testified she has no memory” of the offense because she had consumed too much alcohol. Nonetheless, the judge noted “I don’t believe a word of it.”
Gibb said he has no doubt Leeson did consume “a lot of alcohol” that night, but he also believes she remembers what happened between her and defendant Dominic Edwin Lee Brown, 24, of Pulaski. He pointed out that a written statement she made the night of the incident was “coherent.”
As for the state’s burden to prove Brown guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, Judge Gibb said, “I really don’t have any doubt about it.”
In East’s case, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Peggy Frank presented the court with photographs an officer took Nov. 30 depicting numerous bruises to Bradbury’s upper chest. The officer said Bradbury told him she wanted to obtain a protective order against East, but he discovered one was already on file.
According to statements made in court Thursday, the protective order required East to “refrain” from “committing any further acts of family abuse.” It was not an order to stay away from Bradbury.
Bradbury told the court she and East have been together about five years. She said she called police to their residence because she wanted to press charges against East for pushing her out of the way during an Oct. 26 argument. She said East was cursing her Nov. 30 and she was “kinda” afraid something might happen so she called the police.
Later in the case she insisted she testified that she wasn’t afraid something would “happen” as a result of his Nov. 30 cursing.
In response to the bruise photos, Bradbury said she has a medical condition that causes her to bruise easily. She said they were cased by East just pushing her aside so he could leave the residence. She contends she was blocking East’s effort to leave the residence.
Bradbury agreed with a summation by East’s defense attorney that East “wasn’t trying to hit you, he wasn’t trying to hurt you, he was just trying to leave.”
Asked by the prosecution why she called the police if East didn’t try to hurt her, Bradbury said, “I guess I was mad or upset. All he did was cuss me that day (Nov. 30).”
Bradbury said East served 10 days in jail as a result of the incident. When he got out of jail, she said she told him he was going to have to go on medication. She said he has been on medication ever since and “he’s a totally different man. It’s really helped.”
Frank said it is the Commonwealth’s job “to protect” victims of domestic violence. She said the fact East has prior convictions indicates Bradbury “needs protection.
“Obviously it was a concern for her that day,” Frank added. She pointed out the photographs didn’t show “just one little bruise” on Bradbury’s chest. “There are four or five bruises there,” she told the judge.
East said Bradbury got up in his face that day, so he was just trying to leave the house. He said he is a “big man” so he could have hurt the woman if he had wanted to hurt her.
He acknowledged two of his prior convictions involved situations with Bradbury.
In Brown’s case, Leeson said she and Brown have been together about six years and they have three children together. She said they had split a half-gallon of vodka that night.
She acknowledged she called the police, but she claimed not to remember calling them or anything happening between she and Brown. She also admitted writing and signing a statement saying Brown choked her, but “I don’t remember doing it.”
When Judge Gibb told her he doesn’t believe she can’t remember, Leeson said, “I’ve done a lot of things – I’ve committed crimes – when I’ve been under the influence of alcohol and drugs. She said she has been “battling” both drugs and alcohol since she was 15, but now alcohol is her only substance abuse problem.
Asked by Frank whether reading the statement would refresh her memory of what happened Oct. 24, Leeson said it probably wouldn’t.
In the statement, read to the court by Frank, Leeson indicates Brown grabbed her by the neck and said he would kill her.
On cross-examination, Leeson admitted having nine felony convictions, including embezzlement and making false statements to police.
She told the defense it is possible nothing happened that night and that she made up the allegations.
After being declared a hostile witness for the prosecution, Leeson acknowledged to Frank that she was able remember her address, home and cellular telephone numbers, social security number, her place of employment and her date of birth when she wrote her statement.
Brown denied attacking Leeson. He said they were just “drinking and whatnot” and “she just flipped out” and said she was going to call the police.
Judge Gibb delayed sentencing for Brown until after a background report is completed. Brown was allowed to remain free on bond, but he has been prohibited from leaving Virginia.

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