AL­LEGED VIC­TIM WON’T TES­TIFY

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY MATT FOUN­TAIN

Jim Pinedo, above, is on trial for at­tempted mur­der, but the vic­tim, his girl­friend, has re­fused to tes­tify.

Af­ter an al­leged vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence claimed her boyfriend is in­no­cent and re­fused to tes­tify in his at­tempted mur­der trial, a ther­a­pist ex­plained to ju­rors this week why bat­tered vic­tims of­ten re­turn to and even de­fend their abusers.

“In­ti­mate part­ner vi­o­lence is a process,” Richard Ferry, a mar­riage and fam­ily ther­a­pist, tes­ti­fied Tues­day. “Bond­ing with the abuser is a sur­vival strat­egy.”

Jim Pinedo of San Miguel al­legedly shot girl­friend Dancene Cordova in the neck af­ter pros­e­cu­tors say he ac­cused her of not do­ing enough to dis­suade them from charg­ing him for a pre­vi­ous al­leged as­sault.

But Cordova, who ini­tially told in­ves­ti­ga­tors when she awoke from a coma that Pinedo shot her point blank with his ri­fle, has since re­peat­edly said she lied. In­stead, Cordova pre­vi­ously told The Tri­bune the gun went off when she — af­ter in­ject­ing metham­phetamine — threat­ened to shoot her­self and Pinedo at­tempted to wres­tle the gun away.

De­spite be­ing un­der sub­poena, Cordova has since re­fused to tes­tify or co­op­er­ate with the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in any way, and she was held in con­tempt of court out­side the pres­ence of the jury just be­fore open­ing state­ments.

The Tri­bune does not usu­ally iden­tify al­leged vic­tims of sex­ual and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence but is mak­ing an ex­cep­tion af­ter Cordova gave the news­pa­per per­mis­sion and waived con­fi­den­tial­ity in open court.

‘CY­CLE OF VI­O­LENCE’

Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney Me­gan Baltierra told the jury in open­ing state­ments Oct. 31 that Cordova loves Pinedo, and that Pinedo uses that “mis­placed love” to abuse and threaten her.

Baltierra also told of past vi­o­lent in­ci­dents in which Pinedo as­saulted girl­friends and Cordova, and an in­ci­dent in which he al­legedly said he had dug a grave for her on the San Miguel ranch where he lived.

But Trace Mi­lan, Pinedo’s de­fense at­tor­ney, says that Cordova is a daily metham­phetamine user who had a war­rant for her ar­rest for a pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion when she — pos­si­bly un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs af­ter awak­ing from a 10-day med­i­cally in­duced coma — was first in­ter­viewed by de­tec­tives in the hospi­tal.

Mi­lan also told the jury that the two have an ad­mit­tedly phys­i­cal re­la­tion­ship in which they reg­u­larly shout at and shove each other, and also en­gage in rough in­ti­mate ac­tiv­ity. He pointed out that Pinedo drove Cordova to the hospi­tal — likely sav­ing her life, he said — though he dropped her off and fled be­cause a re­strain­ing or­der pro­hibit­ing con­tact was still ac­tive.

On Tues­day — af­ter Su­pe­rior Court Judge Jac­que­lyn Duffy de­nied a mo­tion by Mi­lan for a mis­trial based on al­leged in­ter­ac­tions be­tween Cordova and Pinedo’s fam­ily and mem­bers of the jury — Baliterra called Ferry to the stand.

A li­censed San Jose fam­ily and mar­riage ther­a­pist spe­cial­iz­ing in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is­sues, Ferry also moon­lights as a con­tracted ex­pert wit­ness who said he has tes­ti­fied in roughly 150 cases since 1992. For that, he’s cur­rently paid $1,000 for a

half-day of tes­ti­mony, plus $100 per hour for travel ex­penses, he said.

As a ther­a­pist and through his work for a women’s shel­ter in Moun­tain View, Ferry tes­ti­fied that in­ti­mate part­ner vi­o­lence is dif­fer­ent from, for ex­am­ple, an as­sault by a stranger in a park­ing lot.

“Be­cause of that close in­volve­ment, they know in­ti­mate things about each other: routes they take, PIN num­bers they use, those bits of in­for­ma­tion that can be used against you,” Ferry said.

He ex­plained that the “cy­cle of vi­o­lence” of in­ti­mate part­ner abuse in­cludes three stages: a ten­sion-build­ing phase, an acute vi­o­lence phase and a pe­riod of con­tri­tion or re­morse.

Ferry tes­ti­fied that vic­tims de­velop mi­cro-strate­gies to man­age it, such as pla­cat­ing their abusers, or if that fails, in­ter­act­ing with them less. But Ferry also said that can ag­gra­vate ten­sions, as most abusers have un­der­ly­ing is­sues with aban­don­ment.

He tes­ti­fied that vi­o­lent in­ci­dents can start early or late in a re­la­tion­ship with smaller ag­gres­sions, like push­ing, shov­ing and slam­ming doors, and in­crease grad­u­ally.

“It can get worse, and it can re­sult in very se­vere out­comes,” Ferry said.

Abusers also go through cy­cles of emo­tions, most of them feigned, such as sor­row, he added, and an abu­sive part­ner’s gen­uine feel­ings of re­morse are usu­ally too shal­low to mo­ti­vate change.

Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is about “power and con­trol,” Ferry said, and can lead to “trau­matic bond­ing,” one well-known form of which in­cludes Stock­holm Syn­drome.

Ferry lastly told ju­rors that with­out treat­ment or in­ter­ven­tion in a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sit­u­a­tion, the cy­cle of vi­o­lence un­folds more rapidly, the scope of vi­o­lence gets worse and the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion phase gets shorter and shorter.

“This is a high-risk pop­u­la­tion,” Ferry said. “Peo­ple get hurt or even killed.”

‘I LIED ABOUT EV­ERY­THING’

With­out Cordova’s tes­ti­mony, the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice is re­ly­ing on her past state­ments to of­fi­cers and dur­ing a pre­lim­i­nary court hear­ing in De­cem­ber. Read­ing for the jury a tran­script of that pro­ceed­ing, Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney Ash­ley Cervera re­counted how Cordova re­peat­edly replied “I don’t re­mem­ber” or “I lied” to nearly all of Baltierra’s ques­tions about the shoot­ing.

“‘I feel like I’m on trial here,’ ” Cervera said, quot­ing Cordova from tran­script. “‘Why do I feel like I’m be­ing held against my will?’ ”

Cordova did an­swer ques­tions from Pinedo’s at­tor­ney at the time, ac­cord­ing to the tes­ti­mony, say­ing she felt she was be­ing “vic­tim­ized by the court” and re­counted how she threat­ened to kill her­self af­ter Pinedo, who she said doesn’t use drugs, caught her in­ject­ing meth and “pro­ceeded to end the re­la­tion­ship.”

“I lied about ev­ery­thing that day,” Cordova re­port­edly tes­ti­fied.

Pinedo, 38, faces up to life in prison if con­victed of all charges and var­i­ous sen­tenc­ing en­hance­ments. He’s pleaded not guilty to felony charges of at­tempted mur­der, as­sault with a firearm, as­sault with a deadly weapon, in­flict­ing cor­po­ral in­jury on a spouse, threat­en­ing a wit­ness, at­tempt­ing to dis­suade a wit­ness, and false im­pris­on­ment, as well as a mis­de­meanor charge of bat­tery.

He pre­vi­ously pleaded no con­test to re­lated felony charges of be­ing a felon in pos­ses­sion of a firearm and in­flict­ing cor­po­ral in­jury on a spouse, as well as dis­obey­ing a re­strain­ing or­der and mak­ing crim­i­nal threats.

Tes­ti­mony is sched­uled to re­sume Fri­day.

Matt Foun­tain: 781-7909, @mat­tfoun­tain1

JOE JOHN­STON jjohn­ston@thetri­bune­news.com

Jim Pinedo, 38, left, of San Miguel is ac­cused of shoot­ing his girl­friend in the neck. His de­fense at­tor­ney is Trace Mi­lan.

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