September 24, 2013

Maine DA: Jailed victim was contacted by her attacker

The victim of a savage domestic beating was arrested only as a 'last resort,' the prosecutor says.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Michael Shepherd mshepherd@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

"It's a tool that has been historically available to prosecutors and the court to ensure the integrity of the process can be maintained," Collins said.

Collins and Almy, like Maloney, said the option should be used only in the most dangerous circumstances.

"Prosecutors have to be vigilant in making sure that they have done everything that they can do," Almy said. "It's a tough call, no doubt about it."

Until 2004, victims of domestic violence in many states could give police recorded or written statements that prosecutors could use as evidence if the victims were not in court to testify or be cross-examined by defense attorneys.

But a case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004 strengthened defendants' Sixth Amendment right to confront their accusers in person.

"Based on that reality, prosecutors got fairly clever in going forward and holding batterers to account without testimony of a victim," said Deb Tuerkheimer, a professor of law at DePaul University in Chicago who is a former prosecutor of domestic violence cases in New York City.

Other evidence, such as 911 calls or photographs of injuries or the scene of an attack, could be used to build a case against a defendant, Tuerkheimer said, in the absence of a victim's testimony.

Such "evidence-based prosecution" would have been difficult in Ruiz's case, Maloney said, so the account of Ruiz was critical, and Maloney feared she would be in grave danger if Robinson were to go free.

"We've become more aware of homicides caused by domestic violence," Maloney said. "We can see the pattern that led up to it."

 

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

 

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com

 

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