Sher­iff’s ac­tress wife adds to trial drama

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY TERRY COLLINS

SAN FRAN­CISCO | Months af­ter mov­ing to the U.S., te­len­ov­ela star Eliana Lopez blogged about her hopes and as­pi­ra­tions for her new, sim­pler life as a wife and mother, far from the bright lights of TV and movies.

The Venezue­lan ac­tress was ex­cited about liv­ing in San Fran­cisco — “a beau­ti­ful and avant-garde city where mil­lions of in­ter­est­ing peo­ple make things hap­pen ev­ery day,” she wrote in 2010 — rais­ing her son with then- Su­per­vi­sor Ross Mirkarimi, and teach­ing bilin­gual mother-and-baby dance classes.

To­day, she is back in the spot­light — this time as her hus­band, now the em­bat­tled San Fran­cisco sher­iff, faces trial this week on misdemeanor crim­i­nal charges that he grabbed and bruised her arm in front of their tod­dler son on New Year’s Eve. Video pur­port­edly show­ing her dis­cussing what hap­pened has emerged as key ev­i­dence.

On Feb. 27, Judge Gar­rett Wong ruled the video could be used as ev­i­dence as Sher­iff Mirkarimi’s at­tor­neys sought a mis­trial. Two days later, Mrs. Lopez’s at­tor­neys ar­gued to no avail that the video be in­ad­mis­si­ble af­ter prose­cu­tors re­leased photo images from the video show­ing an emo­tional Mrs. Lopez with a no­tice­able bruise on her arm.

Both Mrs. Lopez and Sher­iff Mirkarimi have re­peat­edly de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions. She went on Venezue­lan ra­dio in Jan­uary declar­ing that prose­cu­tors are out to get her hus­band.

She also stood by Sher­iff Mirkarimi as he was sworn in, just days be­fore he was booked at his own jail. And she later tear­fully told a judge that she is not some “poor lit­tle im­mi­grant,” adding, “I’m not afraid of my hus­band at all.”

While the judge found Mrs. Lopez to be strong and “quite charm­ing,” he said there was still a “volatile sit­u­a­tion” at play. The sher­iff is un­der a court or­der to stay away from her, although he re­cently has been al­lowed to see his son.

Asked whether Mrs. Lopez would take the wit­ness stand, at­tor­ney Paula Canny ini­tially said they were “keep­ing all op­tions open.” Later, though, she expressed doubts.

“[The pros­e­cu­tion is] try­ing to squeeze her to tes­tify,” she said. “The irony of it is, they won’t grant her im­mu­nity. . . . She’s not tes­ti­fy­ing [oth­er­wise].”

Mrs. Lopez, 36, has ap­peared in nu­mer­ous TV shows and films in Latin Amer­ica. She is per­haps best known as Ori­ana Ponce De Leon, a vil­lain- turned- heroine on the Venezue­lan te­len­ov­ela, “Amor a Pa­los.” She’s sched­uled to star later this year as Venezue­lan In­de­pen­dence War heroine Luisa Cac­eres de Aris­mendi in the fea­ture film, “The Colonel’s Wife.”

Dur­ing the Dec. 31 ar­gu­ment at their home, Sher­iff Mirkarimi grabbed Mrs. Lopez and bruised her right arm, au­thor­i­ties say. The next day, Mrs. Lopez turned to a neigh­bor, Ivory Madi­son, who later con­tacted po­lice. They even­tu­ally con­fis­cated video Ms. Madi­son had taken, along with text mes­sages and emails be­tween the two women. Prose­cu­tors say Mrs. Lopez re­counted Sher­iff Mirkarimi’s ac­tions on the video.

“I’m go­ing to use this just in case he wants to take Theo away from me,” Mrs. Lopez said on the video, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. “Be­cause he did, he said that, that he’s very pow­er­ful, and he can, he can do it.”

Sher­iff Mirkarimi’s de­fense at­tor­neys ar­gue that his wife’s state­ments should be in­ad­mis­si­ble be­cause they were in­tended to help her gain cus­tody of their son if the mar­riage failed. The sher­iff pleaded not guilty to charges of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence bat­tery, child en­dan­ger­ment and dis­suad­ing a wit­ness. He could face up to a year in jail, if con­victed.

SAN FRAN­CISCO DIS­TRICT AT­TOR­NEY’S OF­FICE VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In a video, Eliana Lopez is seen with a bruised right arm in San Fran­cisco (above). Less than two years af­ter mov­ing to the United States, Mrs. Lopez blogged about her hopes and as­pi­ra­tions for her new, sim­pler life as a wife and mother, far from the bright lights of Latin Amer­i­can TV and movies. Now, Mrs. Lopez is back in the spot­light in a do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence case in­volv­ing her hus­band, em­bat­tled San Fran­cisco Sher­iff Ross Mirkarimi (left, with his wife).

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