24 Year Old Domestic Violence Survivor Acquitted of Domestic Violence and Hate Crime Charges After 42 Days in Jail
Martinez, California—December 31, 2014—24 year old Nathanael Sturdevant of Pleasant Hill, California was acquitted of domestic battery and an included offense of assault today in the Contra Costa Superior Court after two hours of jury deliberations. Sturdevant was acquitted of an additional count of a hate crime by Superior Court Judge Charles B. Burch on December 29, 2014 without allowing that count to go to the jury after ruling that no reasonable jury could conclude Sturdevant was guilty of a hate crime. The trial lasted five court days during which jurors heard two independent witnesses say they saw Sturdevant strike and kick his then girlfriend. Pleasant Hill police officer Andrew Gartner testified on behalf of the prosecution to undermine the statements from the 24 year old complaining witness, from Oakley, California, who testified immediately before. Pleasant Hill Officer Daniel Lugliani testified for the defense about a prior incident in which the complaining witness was arrested for assaulting Sturdevant, causing scratches to his face. The complaining witness claimed she never knows who starts the physical fights the two have had but believed she should not have been arrested for the prior incident. Sturdevant testified to a history of verbal and physical abuse by his ex-girlfriend that left him walking on egg shells around her. She berated him and attacked him for things as minor as drinking the wrong cup of coffee and waking her up when she was sleeping. Sturdevant said on the date in question, the complaining witness became enraged because he failed to properly monitor the couple’s belongings. She yelled at him and punched him several times in the face and the back of the head. Bystanders noticed the altercation afterward, while he was defending himself against her attack, and mistaking her for the victim, called police. Sturdevant was arrested on the scene after the complaining witness alleged he attacked her and called her a racial slur. Walnut Creek Defense Attorney Qiana Washington argued the complaining witness was dishonest and abusive. Contra Costa Deputy District Attorney Ronald Tran told the jury he agreed with the defense that the complaining witness was not credible. The jury of six men and six women found Sturdevant used reasonable self defense but believed law enforcement jumped to the wrong conclusion upon arriving at the scene and their bias against Sturdevant compromised their investigation. Sturdevant was noticeably emotional upon reading of the verdict and looks forward to returning home in time to ring in the New Year with his family.
Qiana Washington is Managing Partner at Washington & Associates, a criminal defense law firm, based in Walnut Creek, California with a satellite office in San Francisco. She has 10 years experience in criminal defense.
1990 N. California Blvd., 8th Floor
Walnut Creek, California 94596