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Another One

Another wifebeater was in court this week. There seem to be armies of them out there. Used to be the woman's male relatives took care of the beater. Anymore, it's one more unhappy task for the cops.


Angela Gutierrez had to be subpoenaed to testify against Alfredo Romero. Lover Boy is accused of beating her, and beating her regularly.

Deputy DA Tom Hopkins asked Ms. Gutierrez, “Is that the only reason you are here today?”


“So you are not eager to testify, are you Ms. Gutierrez?”

“No, I’m not. He’s the father of my child.”

“Does he have a drinking problem?”

“A little…”

“Are you eager to see him get treatment for his drinking?”

Public Defender Anthony Adams objected. “What’s the relevance?”

Judge John Behnke said, “It may be relevant if he’s on probation with no-alcohol terms, but for now I’ll sustain the objection.”

Hopkins resumed his questioning of the victim. “Do you recall an incident on May 2nd when Deputy Lockhart was called to your home on Pratt Ranch Road in Hopland?”


“You don’t remember the deputy coming to your house?”

“Objection, your honor. She said she didn’t remember.”

“Overruled. Mr. Hopkins is only trying to refresh her memory. He can do that.”

Ms. Gutierrez cut her eyes at Hopkins, whom she’d been sullenly avoiding.

“Not really,” she said.

“What do you remember?”

“Not much.”

“Do you remember that Mr. Romero was physical with you?”

“Objection, leading.”

“Overruled. The witness is having trouble remembering. And her testimony can be impeached, since Deputy Lockhart is present, acting as my bailiff today,” Judge Behnke added significantly, to Ms. Gutierrez.

Hopkins said, “I’d like the court to recognize her as a hostile witness, your honor.”

“She’s under oath,” Behnke said, “and I think she knows what that means, so proceed, Mr. Hopkins.”

“Did you tell Deputy Lockhart you’d been together 10 years and had one child?”

“I don’t remember what I said to him.”

“You told him you went to the bathroom and Romero came in and started beating you — isn’t that what you also said to the 911 dispatcher?”

“I didn’t call 911, so I don’t know.”

“Who did?”

“My mother did.”

“Do you remember that he came into the bathroom and tried to assault you?”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Didn’t you tell Deputy Lockhart that he hit you with his fist?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Did you get hit?”

“I don’t remember.”

“How was it you knew your mother had called 911?”

“She told me.”

“Did you believe that Romero was intoxicated that night?”


“Before the sheriffs came, did you and he go outside and get into an argument?”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Had he left when the deputies arrived?”



“I don’t know.”

“Was he told that the deputies were on the way?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did his brother come and pick him up?”

“I think he walked.”

“Back on November 18th of 2012, do you recall Deputy Espinoza arriving?”

“Not really.”

“This was on the occasion you went to Robinson Rancheria and danced with an ex-boss and he [Romero] got jealous…”


“…and when you got back to the Pratt Ranch residence, did he stay with you?”


“But didn’t you ask him to stay somewhere else that night?”

“I don’t remember.”

“At about four in the morning did he hold you down and yell at you, ripping your shirt?”

“My mom said that, I didn’t.”

“Did you say that to Deputy Espinoza?”

“I don’t remember.”

“But the deputy took a picture of your ripped shirt, didn’t he?”

“I don’t remember that either. I was very intoxicated.”

“Do you remember your mother coming in and telling him to leave?”


“Do you remember talking to Deputy Espinoza?”

“A little bit.”

“Nothing further.”

Public Defender Adams asked Ms. Gutierrez, “On November 18th of 2012 you were drunk?”


“A little or a lot?”

“A lot.”

“How do you remember that?”

“Because when I go out I drink a lot.”

“Fair to say you have a cantankerous relationship with Mr. Romero?”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“Do you argue and get angry with each other?”


“And on the other occasion you were drinking as well, the May 2nd incident when Deputy Lockhart came?”

“Yeah. He was really, really drunk; could hardly walk.”

“Were you drunk as well?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“So you don’t remember being hit?”


“And you don’t remember your shirt being ripped?”

“It was stretched out is all.”

“Was it possible you stretched it out yourself?”

“It’s possible.”

“Are you afraid of him?”


“Even if he’s been drinking?”

“No. He does have a drinking problem, but he’s a good dad.”

“Are you worried he’s gonna commit violence against you?”


“Is it safe to say that when you drink heavily, you don’t remember much?”

“Yeah – I mean, no I don’t. So yes.”

“To the best of your recollection, has he ever put his hands on you in a harmful way?”


“Nothing further.”

Hopkins said, “You said no — does that include when you are so drunk you can’t remember?”

“Objection — calls for speculation.”

Behnke said, “I’m inclined to let her try.”

“I don’t understand,” Gutierrez said.

“Did you tell Deputy Lockhart that he [Romero] was outside consuming large amounts of alcohol all day?”

“Of course, we were both drinking all day.”

Detective Louis Espinoza (formerly Anderson Valley Deputy Espinoza) was called. He had been dispatched to the Pratt Ranch Road residence in Hopland on November 18th, 2012 where he talked to Angela Gutierrez.

“She told me that she and her boyfriend got into an argument following a night of drinking; he got her down on the bed and caused her shirt to be ripped.”

Hopkins asked, “Did you know who the boyfriend was?”

“Yes, I’ve had multiple contacts with both parties and know them well.”

“Did she indicate to you that they’d been drinking heavily?”

“I don’t recall, but her appearance would suggest she had.”

“Did she have any difficulty understanding your questions?”

“She seemed to hesitate, but showed no difficulty in understanding.”

Public Defender Adams: “You know both parties well – do you find her to be credible when she’s intoxicated?”

“It depends, but yeah, I believe so.”

“And Mr. Romero – had he been drinking?”

“He was not contacted that night. He was outstanding,” meaning that Romero was not present.

“Deputy Dan Lockhart (in court as bailiff) was called. He had been dispatched to the happy Pratt Ranch Road home on May 2nd where he interviewed Ms. Gutierrez.

“She told me she and Romero had been together six years and had one child. She said Romero had been drinking all day and came into the bathroom and assaulted her. He entered the bathroom, she said, around four in the morning and hit her several times with his fist.”

“Did she have any injuries or bruising?”

“She had some redness and swelling on her arm. It hadn’t turned to bruises yet.”

“Did she ask for medical treatment,” Hopkins asked.

“No, she refused.”

“Nothing further.”

Adams for the prosecution: “She told you they’d been drinking all day?”


“Have you encountered many intoxicated persons before?”

Judge Behnke laughed. Adams may be new to the Mendo bar, but Deputy Lockhart is a veteran cop; he's seen enough drunks to last him ten life times. The judge just had to laugh. When the hilarity faded, the red-faced lawyer resumed:

“Is it possible that an intoxicated person could injure herself?”

“Yes, that’s possible,” Lockhart said with a disciplined countenance.

“Well, did you ask Mr. Romero if he assaulted her?”

“Yes. But that was four or five days later, and he denied it.”

“Was there any evidence of a struggle in the bathroom that you saw?”

“I did not see any, but—”

“Nothing further.”

Judge Behnke asked, “Did you want to add something, Deputy Lockhart?”

“Only that she asked for an emergency protective order, and I called Judge Nadel and got one for her. Also, she didn’t seem intoxicated at all at that time, which was about seven in the morning.”

Deputy Lockhart, a muscular rock of a man, resumed his post as bailiff, as public defender Adams said, “We’d concede that Mr. Romero has failed to appear for his court dates, but with respect to the two domestic violence charges there was a lot of disagreement in the testimony, and with only an emergency protective order and some bruises, we do not feel this rises to a sufficiency of evidence for a holding order. While they would both be well advised to lay off the booze, an argument is all it really amounts to.”

Prosecutor Hopkins did not agree. He said the evidence that Romero was a chronic woman beater was more than sufficient, and that Ms. Gutierrez was “crying out for help, though trying her best not to say the defendant is responsible.”

Judge Behnke agreed: “I find that he violated the terms of his probation and more than that, he did have a no-alcohol clause. He has failed to appear in court and this case has gone on since 2011, with the defendant basically hiding out and defying the court. I also find that he has committed battery with an injury on a spouse or cohabitant. The victim on May 2nd gave an account of the assault to the deputy and said she was in fear of the defendant, and that was only two months ago. To say that she can’t remember is totally incredible. Both parties were drunk, but Mr. Romero has been on probation since 2011 when it was imposed by Judge Lamb, and he has failed to do almost everything required of him — the community service, the restitution, evading a series of warrants, has complicated his bail bond, neglected to report to probation, failed to appear, continued to drink and, at this point, I think the 115 days he didn’t serve should be imposed, and I’m gonna add 180 days to that — he has showed absolutely no ability to comply, so let’s make it 211 days. Mr. Locatelli [the Probation Officer] walk me through the math…”

It came to 295 days, total, after credit for time served was subtracted. It should give Lover Boy time to sober up a bit, and a year or so in anger management will likely follow.

Even with the alcohol-induced amnesia on the part of the victim, the judge was able, it seems, to cut through to “the very pink of the truth,” as Dickens would say.

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