Testimony ends in Belmont vice mayor's trial

November 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Belmont Vice Mayor Bill Dickenson testified today in San Mateo County Superior Court that his ex-girlfriend struck him with a purse on the left side of his face during an argument that led to Dickenson's arrest on misdemeanor domestic violence charges in July.

The argument occurred July 11 at Redwood City Underground, a pub owned by Dickenson's ex-girlfriend, who had hired Dickenson as a consultant.

A Redwood City police officer who responded to the pub that day testified in court today, however, that Dickenson was rubbing his right ear, not his left, when he gave his statement to police.

Dickenson and his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer MacSwain, said they had dated on and off from September or October of 2007 to May 2008.

They each testified that the other was guilty of causing injury during the confrontation in July.

Both said the fight on July 11 started in the afternoon while the two were in the upstairs office of MacSwain's pub the Redwood City Underground. The pub was not open for business at the time.

They initially argued about business matters, but MacSwain said the topic then turned to their relationship.

MacSwain testified she tried to leave after Dickenson began calling her names, but that Dickenson blocked both the front and back doors.

Dickenson admitted he had called her a name during the argument and said he regretted it.

MacSwain said she then went to the bar to put down the glass of Red Bull she was holding, and Dickenson allegedly grabbed her purse, which was hanging on her shoulder, and yanked on it until she fell on her back, at which point she said he dragged her by the purse for 5 or 6 feet.

MacSwain testified she was bruised on her arm and had red marks on her back from being pulled by her purse.

"I was shocked and stunned," MacSwain said. She then called 911 because "I didn't think he was ever going to let me leave."

Dickenson testified today, however, that he "in no way" blocked the doors to prevent MacSwain from leaving, and that MacSwain had approached him and struck him on the left side of the head with her purse, spilling her drink on him.

"It stung me," Dickenson said. "I saw stars, and felt wet on my head ... and assumed Red Bull had been spilled on me, but then I smelled vodka."

Redwood City police Officer Mark Alifano testified today that Dickenson had rubbed his right ear during the five- to seven-minute conversation between the two and that he did not appear to be wet on any part of his body.

On Wednesday, MacSwain denied she had any alcohol in her system during the argument.

The evidence portion of the trial ended this morning, and closing arguments are expected to be presented at 1:30 p.m.

Dickenson pleaded not guilty Sept. 17 to one count of misdemeanor domestic violence and one count of false imprisonment, and could spend up to a year in county jail if convicted, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.


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