Video not to be shown in Mirkarimi trial -- for now

March 2, 2012 7:58:46 PM PST
The controversial bruise video in San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's trial won't be shown to jurors while judges hear an appeal of a decision to allow the videotape into evidence.

Mirkarimi, 50, has pleaded not guilty to domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness charges -- all misdemeanors -- in connection with a Dec. 31 incident in which he allegedly bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument.

Mirkarimi's wife is refusing to cooperate with the prosecution even though she is the reported victim. Her attorney, Paula Canny, hopes to override the decision which allows the prosecution's star witness, Lopez's neighbor Ivory Madison, to testify. Madison is the one who videotaped the bruise on Lopez's arm.

The court has granted the writ, which means the appeals judges will hear Canny's case next week. The Mirkarimi trial can go on but the appeal court ordered that the controversial videotape not be shown to the jurors until the issue is resolved. The video shows a bruise on the arm of Mirkarimi's wife after the alleged assault. It is the prosecution's most critical piece of evidence.

In other developments, an evidentiary hearing was held Friday to determine whether an ex-girlfriend of Mirkarimi's, Christina Flores, can testify in his upcoming trial. Judge Garrett Wong spent about two hours Friday listening to arguments from prosecutors and the defense before continuing the hearing till Monday.

The hearing took place behind closed doors, but court documents say Flores met Mirkarimi in 2007 at the Haight Ashbury Street Fair and that they had an on and off relationship for a little over a year.

Flores, who is in the entertainment business, told police in January after Mirkarimi's story made headlines that he too bruised her arm after an argument. Prosecutors want to show that the sheriff had a propensity for violence against his female partners.

"The prosecution needs everything it can get in terms of showing that this was deliberate intentional conduct on the part of Ross Mirkarimi," said ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson.

Mirkarimi's lawyer Lydia Stiglich argues that he broke off the relationship in the fall of 2008, telling her he was now involved with Eliana Lopez, whom he later married. Stiglich says Flores tried to win him back by sending him nude emails. When that failed, Stiglich says Flores began sending hate emails. The defense says Flores is a scorned woman and as such, is an unreliable witness.

Jury selection in the trial is expected to start Monday morning. Wong said to potential jurors earlier this week that he expects the trial to last no more than two weeks.

Bay City News contributed to this report.


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