Thursday, March 23, 2017

Breaking the Cycle: District Attorney’s Office Works at National Level to Combat Domestic Violence

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  – Working in conjunction with the Women Prosecutors Section of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office assisted in developing a Best Practices Guide aimed at combatting domestic violence.
According to Assistant District Attorney Mary Ashley—who is currently vice-chair of the Women Prosecutors Section (WPS) alongside Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey—the newly-released National Domestic Violence Prosecution Best Practices Guide is aimed at informing and recommending practices that are effective and consistent throughout the nation. 
“On this surface this guide is about best practices, but deep down, it’s about reducing violence against women,” said Ashley. “It’s about combatting the issues of sexual assault and human trafficking and all crimes against children—and it’s about empowering victims to break the cycle of abuse. These are problems that plague our county as well as victims across the state and nation.”
Ashley added, in 2016, there were over 3,100 domestic-violence related cases filed in San Bernardino County. During that same time frame, 271 defendants were sentenced to state prison for a total of 1,296 years and 1,744 defendants were sentenced to County Prison and County jail for a total of 696 years.
The primary goal of drafting and releasing this resource is to increase victim safety, offender accountability, and community accountability by challenging prosecutors to aggressively prosecute domestic violence cases when the evidence supports prosecution and promoting multidisciplinary, multi-agency collaborations and co-located service models, such as family justice centers and similar multi-agency approaches and coordinated community responses. 
Among the key items covered include:
·         Strategies for the successful prosecution of cases even when victims are unable or unwilling to participate in prosecution. 

·         Ways prosecutors can play a valuable role in advocating for community-oriented interventions to help support survivors and their children in breaking the vicious, generational cycle of family violence.

To view the entire document, visit:
“As a representative of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, it is an extraordinary opportunity to be at the table on these vital issues whether it be through training, seeking additional government resources and funding for our county, advocating for victims’ rights, and sharing best practices,” said Ashley.
The goal of the WPS is to promote mentorship and leadership for women across the country in prosecutor’s offices and building a culture of women leaders in the criminal justice system. The WPS creates opportunities to address issues such as Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse at a national level and create partnerships and materials to assist prosecutors in handling these cases. 

Hesperia mother faces life in prison after being found guilty of child homicide charges

Jaimi Roberts (Booking Photo)
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.– A Hesperia mother who attacked her 2-year-old child faces life in prison after being found guilty Wednesday of child homicide charges.

Jaimi Roberts, 24, was found guilty of assault on a child causing death, and a separate charge of involuntary manslaughter, in connection with the April 24, 2014 death of her son, Grant Dunn Jr. She faces 25 years to life when she is sentenced May 12 by Judge Eric Nakata in Superior Court in Victorville.

“We are very pleased that little Grant Jr.’s killer is being held responsible,” Deputy District Attorney David Foy, who prosecuted the 10-day trial, said. “The defendant deserves every day of her prison sentence.”

Paramedics went to the Hesperia home of Roberts, then 21, in the afternoon after the child had gone unconscious. Roberts and her boyfriend had described to San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies how the child had been throwing up since the day before, but had gotten progressively sicker the next day, and finally stopped breathing and lost consciousness.

Roberts told deputies she had “play-wrestled” with him MMA style on the evening of April 22, 2014, and had elbowed him in the abdomen, but he seemed fine afterward.

The child was hospitalized but died later that afternoon.
According to Foy, an autopsy showed he died from a severe blow to the abdomen, consistent with a punch or elbow, causing the lower intestine to rupture and spilling waste into the abdominal cavity, resulting in peritonitis and then sepsis that spread through his bloodstream and shut down vital organs.

The next day, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s homicide detectives questioned Roberts again. After an hour of denying inflicting any hard elbow strikes during the “wrestling,” she finally admitted she elbowed the boy hard twice in the abdomen, and demonstrated on video.

Roberts also admitted doing Internet searches for the terms “abdominal trauma,” “broken rib” and “appendix injury” an hour before 911 was called. She also admitted inflicting a severe bite wound on the child’s shoulder on the day of the “wrestling.”

During the trial, the victim’s father testified that after he broke up with Roberts, he witnessed her punching the child in the stomach and physically attacked her to break up the assault on his son. That incident was not reported to police.

Roberts testified at trial that she falsely confessed, and never actually elbowed the child to the stomach. She told the jury he never showed signs of serious illness until just before he lost consciousness on April 24, 2014. She denied the prior child abuse as claimed by the boy’s father.