Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mom testifies at murder trial of custodial dad, step (Kimball Township, Michigan)

We've posted a couple of times on custodial dad JOE GALVAN and the step, who are currently on trial for the murder of his 3-year-old daughter. Not much has been heard from the non-custodial mom, at least in the media. But now she is breaking her silence. And her tale is a very typical one for these kinds of cases: the father had a history of domestic violence against her, and once he obtained custody, all contact with the child was eliminated.

Galvan trial: Prhaze's mom testifies she lived in fear of Joe Galvan

Times Herald
• June 30, 2010

Cassandra Lovett said her relationship with Joe Galvan was filled with abuse and fear.

She said she called police when he pushed his finger into her eye and tried to take away their daughter, Prhaze Galvan.

Lovett testified Tuesday during the jury trial of Joe and Jennifer Galvan. The trial is in its third week.

The Kimball Township couple is charged with felony murder, torture and first-degree child abuse in the Jan. 15 death of 3-year-old Prhaze Galvan.

Police visits were a regular occurrence at the apartments she shared with Galvan, Lovett said.

Family members and friends often called officers because of the way he treated her, she said.

"Every time he smacked me, there was always a mark," she said.

Lovett said the daughter she had with Joe Galvan, Prhaze, was her "baby girl."

Lovett said she lied to police officers at times while she was dating Joe Galvan, to keep him from going to jail.

"So I wouldn't get it worse when he got out of jail," she said.

Lovett wasn't the sole target of Galvan's abuse, she testified.

Lovett's oldest son by another man was then just a toddler. She said Joe Galvan verbally and physically abused the child.

Lovett said Galvan would tell her son, "you're a faggot just like your dad ... you're a bastard."

She said that, when she tried to stand up for her son, Joe Galvan would choke her or grab her by the arm.

Lovett said while she lived in Missouri with Joe Galvan and his parents, she came home from work one day to find her oldest son injured.

She said Galvan told her the boy walked behind him while Galvan worked out and was hit with a 20-pound weight.

She said she eventually moved back to Port Huron and took Joe Galvan back as a boyfriend when he said the relationship between them would be different.

One night when she came home from work, she found a mark around her son's neck, she said.

"Joe said the blanket must have wrapped around his neck while he was sleeping," Lovett said.

She said Joe Galvan treated Prhaze -- who was a year younger than her oldest son -- differently and rarely spanked her.

She said the two ended their relationship in June 2007. They did not marry.

Lovett said she signed over her parental rights to Joe Galvan because he told her she would still be able to see her daughter and they had been trying to iron out a custody arrangement in the courts for two years.

Nicole Phillips said she saw bruises and other marks on Lovett and her son while Lovett was dating Joe Galvan.

Phillips, who said she considers Lovett a sister, began to cry as she testified that, at one point in the relationship, Lovett called her, screaming hysterically, to come pick up her son.

"Her voice was cracking, she was screaming in the phone. ... She said he was going to ... kill her and she was worried about her and (her son) and please please come over," Phillips testified.

Phillips said she called Child Protective Services, police and her father about the marks she saw on Lovett and her son.

Lovett's mother, Linda Villerot, also testified Tuesday. Senior Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Keyes requested the court's permission to have Villerot picked up at her home Tuesday morning because she had not responded to a subpoena.

Villerot testified she has been living with Joe Galvan's brother for the past four years. She said she never saw Joe Galvan physically abuse her grandson.

Villerot said after Joe and Jennifer Galvan gained custody of Prhaze, she was not allowed to see her.

She said she would have called authorities if she saw bruises on the girl.

"I would never have let her go back to that house," Villerot said.

As she left the courtroom, Villerot was crying.

Several other witnesses also were called to the stand Tuesday, including a forensic scientist who said she found vomit on several clothing items taken from the Galvans' house.

Testimony is to continue at 9 a.m. today.