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Anderson, Askansas win felony DV trial

Attorneys Neil Anderson and Isabelle Askanas won a domestic violence trial this week in Clark County Superior Court for a client charged with felony harassment and misdemeanor assault.

The client was arrested last year after a woman he’d recently met called 911 and told responding Vancouver police officers that our client had forcefully shoved her and threatened to kill her with her own gun. 

A conviction would have carried a sentence of up to eight months in jail.

The client testified that he met the woman through an online dating site. About a week after they met she picked him up in Portland and brought him home to Vancouver. He said they had got into an argument because he wanted her to drive him home, and she wanted him to stay at her residence. He said it was late, and after she told him she wasn’t going to drive him home, she said she was going outside. It was a cold October evening and he said he didn’t want her to go outside because she was barefoot and wearing only a nightgown.

A video from an interior security camera, which a deputy prosecuting attorney told jurors showed our client pushing the alleged victim, was really him trying to keep her from going out in the cold, he said. He did not intend to hurt her.

The client also testified he never threatened to shoot her. He was calm on the stand, even when the deputy prosecutor sarcastically asked if his memory of events was clearer now than it was ten months ago.

“Yes, because I’m fighting for my freedom now,” he replied.

As Anderson told jurors during closing arguments on Aug. 9, they didn’t just have two versions of what happened that October night: they had three.

The first version was what the alleged victim testified to at trial. The second version was his client’s and the third was what the alleged victim told responding police officers.

Her story changed considerably, including where she left her Glock 19. She told officers she forgot to bring it in from her vehicle to put it in a safe, and she was scared our client was going to retrieve the Glock from the garage after he threatened to blow her head off. 

She testified that she always left her Glock in her vehicle and had other firearms in the house, and that she had suspected our client had hid the gun.

Askanas, while questioning one of the police officers, elicited that the alleged victim had told him she kept the Glock on the center console, and forgot to take it out of the car.  The jurors had already heard the alleged victim testify that she left the Glock in a cupholder in the door and that she intended to leave it there.  

One of the many things about her story that didn’t make sense, Anderson said during closing arguments, is why would his client have headed to the garage to retrieve the Glock if she suspected he had hid it elsewhere? And if he had gone to the garage and she feared for her life, why didn’t she get one of her other firearms while he was in the garage so she could defend herself?

Perhaps the most bizarre part of the alleged victim’s story, Anderson said, was her claim that she found the Glock a week later, in a blanket on an ottoman. The woman has five children.

“So for a full week, she’s got a fully loaded gun in her house where it could have easily been found by any of her small children,” Anderson said.

One of the responding officers searched inside and outside of the house and was unable to find it. Why didn’t the alleged victim review footage from her many interior cameras to prove his client had hid the gun, Anderson asked jurors.

“And why wouldn’t she tear the house upside-down looking for the gun, when she’s got small children in the house?” Anderson said. “It’s bizarre. It’s not credible.”

He also reminded jurors of testimony from defense investigator Scott Barrar, who said the alleged victim told him during a pre-trial interview that she had not been scared for her life that night.

The jury deliberated two hours before returning “not guilty” verdicts on both counts on Aug. 10.

Tags: criminal law, not guilty, domestic violence, Clark County

Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.: Vancouver Defenders Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.
Vancouver Defenders