Defense calls expert on domestic violence in Georgie Hand trial
Expert on domestic violence called by defense trial being held in Moffat County
April 1, 2016
On Friday afternoon, attorneys for Georgie Hand called their first and only witness to the stand.
Hand, 44, is on trial after she and her boyfriend, James Damon, allegedly took two law enforcement officers hostage at gunpoint near Dinosaur National Monument in Moffat County on March 9, 2015.
Hand and Damon allegedly disarmed Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Nathan Martinez and Moffat County Sheriff's Deputy Bhrent Shock while holding them at gunpoint.
After a brief struggle with the two officers, Damon was shot in the head and killed by Martinez, according to the arrest affidavit. Hand was taken into custody immediately afterward.
Hand faces several charges in relation to the incident, including two counts of second-degree kidnapping.
In opening statements, defense counsel described a history of physical and verbal abuse that Hand suffered under Damon and contended that she had no choice but to follow his orders.
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"No one says no to James Damon," public defender Rico Tagliaferri said.
To support its argument, the defense called Vicki Lutz, an expert on domestic violence.
Lutz said she provides expert testimony on the effects of domestic violence several times a year. Her experience includes executive director of Colorado’s Crossroads Safehouse, executive director of Pace Women’s Justice Center in New York, professor of law and prosecutor.
Defense counsel asked Lutz to explain different types of abuse, the cycle of violence that occurs in abusive relationships and how abusers control their victims.
Lutz also explained how hard it is for a victim to safely exit an abusive relationship.
"Protection orders don't stop bullets," she said.
After Lutz's testimony, court recessed for the weekend and will resume at 8:30 a.m. on Monday.
The trial began Wednesday afternoon and continued Thursday morning with the resumption of testimony from the state's first witness, Shock.
Shock was asked to recount the events of March 9, explain the crime scene and express what was going through his mind during the ordeal.
The jury heard radio recordings between law enforcement before the encounter and the emergency call made by Shock after he and Martinez subdued Damon.
After providing his testimony, Shock was cross-examined by public defender Molly Hamshire, who began by asking about Hand's demeanor on March 9, 2015.
On Thursday, the state called Lou Dean Jacobs, who lives in Blue Mountain — near K Ranch in Moffat County where the incident happened. Jacobs stumbled upon the scene while driving along U.S. Highway 40 to take a hike with her dogs.
Jacobs said she pulled over because she heard a firearm go off and saw the vehicles off of the highway. She assumed it was the caretaker of the K Ranch, who she wanted to meet.
Upon approaching the scene, she said she was flagged down by Shock.
Shock instructed Jacobs on how to remove the handcuffs that Hand supposedly used to secure his left arm to his belt when she and Damon allegedly tried to take Shock and Martinez hostage.
K Ranch caretaker Rick Flohe also testified Thursday, stating Hand and Damon were not invited onto the property.
Two Colorado State Patrol troopers were also called by the state Thursday to provide an analysis of how Damon's vehicle left Highway 40.
According to the troopers' testimony, once off the highway, the vehicle went back and forth along the fence line of the K Ranch before crashing through.
In addition to accident expertise, Trooper Daren Luevano also provided testimony on his conversation with Hand while en route to the hospital.
Finally, Craig Police Department Investigator Travis Young took the stand Thursday and the prosecution presented his nearly two-hour interview with Georgie Hand. The interview took place on March 9, immediately following the events in question.
In the interview, Hand willfully answered Young's questions about what happened that day and volunteered information about her abusive relationship with Damon.
"He always threatened to kill me," Hand said to Young on March 9.