Brother acquitted of assaulting sister
Attorney Tim Murphy won an acquittal Sept. 14 in Clark County District Court for a client charged with fourth-degree assault and third-degree malicious mischief. The crimes, both gross misdemeanors, carried a maximum sentence of one year in the Clark County Jail.
The alleged victim was the client’s younger sister, who testified at trial that her brother punched her in the face, dragged her out of bed and broke her phone during an argument that started when he accused her of taking his bath towel and she told him to “get the f--- out” of her bedroom.
Vancouver police officers who responded to the April 15 incident noted that the 17-year-old sister had injuries to her face and they arrested her brother, 22, for assault.
The Vancouver City Attorney’s office added a charge of malicious mischief after the case was set for trial, a common tactic used to encourage defendants to plead guilty so prosecutors don’t have to prove the case at a trial.
The sister also testified at trial that her brother took her phone and threw it on the ground after she said she was going to call 911.
A teenage relative called 911 instead and told police she witnessed the assault. However, on the witness stand she acknowledged that she heard details about the incident from the victim.
As Murphy told the jury of five men and one woman during closing arguments, this wasn’t, as portrayed by an assistant city attorney, a case with an independent witness. This was a case with an alleged victim who told someone else what to say to officers.
His client didn’t testify, and Murphy reminded jurors that they couldn’t hold that against him. His client didn’t behave like someone who was guilty, Murphy said. The client remained at the residence after 911 was called and spoke to police officers. Officers noted that he had scratches on the backs of his hands and face, and he said they were caused by his sister.
Brothers and sisters, Murphy told jurors, fight all the time.
As for the broken phone, Murphy said officers didn’t photograph the phone and didn’t seize it as evidence, so they couldn’t be absolutely certain the broken phone later produced by the sister had in fact been damaged by his client.
The jury deliberated 90 minutes before returning the not-guilty verdicts.