Sunday, November 17, 2013

Judge: Dad's prior history of domestic violence, child abuse can be presented at trial (Livingston County, Michigan)

Good for Judge Hatty. Too often juries don't understand that abuse is part of a systematic history of abuse involving the mother and the children. So each new assault or crime is presented as some sort of unique event, which is totally misleading.

Dad is identified as GARY TODD YERMAN.

Judge denies defense request in child-abuse case

Fowlerville father is accused of giving girl, 15, a black eye

Nov. 16, 2013 11:11 PM
Written by Lisa Roose-Church Daily Press & Argus

A Livingston County judge denied the defense’s request to stop the prosecution from presenting to a jury prior domestic violence allegations against a Fowlerville father accused of giving his daughter a black eye.

However, Judge Michael P. Hatty left the door open for the defense attorney representing Gary Todd Yerman, who is charged with third-degree child abuse for striking his 15-year-old daughter in the face with his hand, to bring the motion again.

“I filed this motion because, frankly, I’d like to know whether I’m trying one case or this case with 15 or 16 ancillary cases,” defense attorney Mike Gildner said. “None of those previous incidences ... were reported previous to the underlying charge here. They were given to us in what is, what I can best describe is, a rambling letter by the ex-wife.”

Gildner said the old allegations “go back 15 years,” and he questioned the relevancy to the current allegations levied against his client.

One of the prior allegations involves Yerman allegedly dragging his son off the football field by his face mask and breaking either his ex-wife’s thumb or arm or both, Gildner added.

Assistant Prosecutor Betsey Geyer Sedore said the prior domestic violence allegations — five involving the daughter; two involving the defendant’s son; and four involving his ex-wife — are relevant because it shows the defendant’s propensity toward domestic violence.

“He has abused his family before. Therefore, he more than likely did this act,” she told the judge. “That is why the prosecution needs it. The defense would love to keep it a ‘he said, she said’ case. ... It goes to show (the daughter) is telling the truth.”

Sedore also disputed that the allegations were not reported.

Meanwhile, Yerman, who was not in court Thursday, is expected be at the next hearing to answer whether he went to Iowa in violation of bond conditions that state he cannot leave the state of Michigan without approval.

Sedore said she’s learned that Yerman’s travel to Iowa was to address an “assault-type charge” against a non-family member. She also expressed that Yerman “might be” trying to intimidate his son on a recent hunting trip in which Yerman allegedly told his son, “You better watch what you say because I’m going to hear it all.”

Hatty gave the defense attorney one week to get his client to court to address the possible bond violation.

Yerman, 44, had initially pleaded no contest in August to third-degree child abuse for striking his 15-year-old daughter in the face with his hand and he was scheduled for sentencing.

However, as the sentencing hearing started, Sedore told the judge that Yerman and his attorney had made comments that implied the defendant had been “forced to plea.” She wanted the judge to ensure that Yerman wanted the plea entered.

Yerman withdrew his plea after a private discussion with his attorney. He is tentatively scheduled for trial in December.

Yerman’s 15-year-old daughter testified at an earlier hearing that she and her father argued at his Cohoctah Township home in September 2012 after her stepmother accused her of stealing a belt.

On cross-examination, the teen admitted that she told some friends she had been kicked in the face during cheerleading practice because she did not want Child Protective Services involved.