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Cole wins split verdict in domestic violence case

Attorney Grant Cole won a split verdict this week in Clark County District Court. His client was acquitted on May 24 of fourth-degree assault domestic violence but convicted of resisting arrest.

Cole’s client was arrested at his home March 14, after his wife called 911 to report that he’d thrown a water bottle at her head. His wife went outside to meet responding Clark County Sheriff’s deputies, and Cole’s client locked the door and the garage door. Deputies found an open window and entered the home with the wife’s permission. Cole’s client had locked himself in a bedroom with his daughter, so a deputy had to break the door down. When a deputy tried to take Cole’s client into custody he fought back.

The justification for the charge of resisting arrest, a gross misdemeanor, was clear and Cole didn’t have a defense. With the charge of assault, however, Cole took a risk. While the client’s wife was on the witness stand, Cole asked her if it was true that two days prior to calling 911 she’d gone to court and asked for a restraining order and her request had been denied. She said that was true. An assistant city attorney objected to the question, and the objection was sustained, but Cole at least was able to let jurors know there may have been other factors that contributed to the wife’s decision to call 911.

On March 12, she had filed for divorce and asked for a restraining order. A judge denied her request because there wasn’t any evidence that she was in danger of being hurt by her husband. She’d wanted her husband to leave the family home, but he had no job and nowhere to go.

Two days later, she called 911 and he was arrested and booked into the Clark County Jail. 

The client’s wife testified she was in bed and had asked her daughter to bring her a glass of water. She said her husband instead came upstairs with two plastic bottles of water and yelled at her for asking their daughter to bring her water. She said he threw one bottle at a wall and the other at her head. She said she turned away and the bottle hit her in the back of the head, leaving a small bump.

Cole's client denied to deputies that he threw the bottle at her head. 

During closing argument, Cole told the six jurors (three men and three women) that there was a serious lack of evidence supporting the assault, with serious concerns about the credibility of the person making the accusation. The prosecution simply couldn't prove the assault charge beyond a reasonable doubt, he said, and told the jury it was their job to hold the prosecution to that burden of proof. 

The jury deliberated approximately 45 minutes before returning the verdict. 

At sentencing, Judge Chad Sleight went far beyond the assistant city attorney’s recommendation of 18 days in jail and ordered 60 days of confinement. 

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

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