Thursday, December 12, 2013

Zimmerman girlfrend recants

A lot of domestic violence disputes are just silly arguments that do not need to be police matters. Here is a recent one that was all over the news. AP reports:
Prosecutors are considering whether to move forward with domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman even though his girlfriend is asking them not to do so.

Without a witness willing to testify, prosecutors can still use law enforcement reports, 911 calls and other witnesses to build a case. But such cases are more difficult to prove, State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lynne Bumpus Hooper said.

Zimmerman filed an affidavit from his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, saying she doesn't want him charged with aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. The affidavit was filed with a motion Monday asking a judge to change the terms of his bond so he can have contact with Scheibe.

Zimmerman was arrested last month after Scheibe accused him in a 911 call of pointing a gun at her, smashing a coffee table and pushing her outside. Zimmerman also called dispatchers, denied pointing a gun at her and blamed her for the broken table.
More difficult to prove? This was a simple he-said-sge-said, with no injuries or hard evidence. And the girlfriend has renounced the complaint:
In the signed affidavit, Scheibe -- referring to Zimmerman as "my boyfriend" -- said detectives misinterpreted what she said and that she hadn't been coerced into signing the document.

"I am not afraid of George in any manner and I want to be with him," Scheibe wrote.

It's not uncommon in domestic violence cases for the alleged victims to change their minds about pursuing charges, said Blaine McChesney, a former prosecutor in Orlando who now is a defense attorney.

"In the heat of the moment, they're angry about what has happened. Later, upon reflection, they're not as angry. They're not as upset," McChesney said Tuesday. "The feelings of love and compassion overcome any feelings the victim had."

Although prosecutors can move ahead without the cooperation of the victim, it makes it difficult to convict if there is no physical evidence of injuries, he said.

"Juries really want to see the alleged victim on the stand talking about the case," McChesney said. "It's very hard to convict in a case when the victim isn't there."
Of course juries want to see that a crime was committed, before they vote for a conviction. Without a complaining witness, how could there be a crime?
Some victims refuse to cooperate believing the person who assaulted them will wind up in prison, said Carol Wick, chief executive of Harbor House of Central Florida, which offers shelter and programs to victims of domestic violence.

In reality, the courts offer alternatives to prison such as mandatory therapy and anger management classes. In metro Orlando, where more than half of the cases that end up being dropped are due to victims unwilling to testify, police are starting a program that tries to get victims in touch with counselors within 24 hours of a reported assault.

"People don't understand the psychological manipulation that goes on when this happens," Wick said.
Yes, some women realize that sending a boyfriend to prison for a little argument is not fair.


Anonymous said...

Cops and prosecutors do photograph physical evidence of assault now and will sometimes prosecute a case even with no complaining witness but only in cases where the injuries are severe enough to sway a jury.

It is important to note that unlike a civil case, the state decides if there is a crime worth prosecuting. The burden is that there is a crime and it can be successfully prosecuted. The wishes of the "victim" are considered but a victim has no veto power or control once the police are brought in.

George said...

They also photographed Trayvon Martin's dead body, but could not convict Zimmerman for the death.