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Proven Experience. Aggressive Advocacy.

The Following Motions, Researched and Drafted by Domestic Violence Attorney, Chris Cessna Were Critical In Winning His Client's Cases.

Motion No. 1:


COMES NOW, the defendant, by and through her attorney Christopher Hunter Cessna, hereby respectfully requests this Honorable Court to allow certain transactional and character evidence to be admitted in this case against the alleged victim Joseph (Alleged Victim), and as grounds therefore states as follows:

1. Ms. XXXX is charged with inter alia, one count of Assault pursuant to Denver Municipal Ordinance 38-93, for an offense that allegedly took place on January 7, 2006. The alleged victim was defendant’s then ex-boyfriend Joseph (Alleged Victim).

2. The defendant is alleged to have kicked Mr. (Alleged Victim) in the face after Mr. (Alleged Victim) came into Ms. XXXX’s bedroom without her permission, stood above her bed, and woke her up to interrogate her about the men she had been calling on her cell phone. Mr. (Alleged Victim), who was reluctantly invited to stay in a separate bedroom while he was in town, came home after Ms. XXXX had gone to bed. He found Ms. XXXX’s cell phone on the kitchen counter. Without Ms. XXXX’s permission, Mr. (Alleged Victim), searched Ms. XXXX’s cell phone to see which men she may have been talking to. He then went into Ms. XXXX’s bedroom to confront her about the phone numbers he found on her cell phone.

3. It is Ms. XXXX’s position that any injuries Mr. (Alleged Victim) may have suffered were a result of Ms. XXXX defending herself out of fear of Joe (Alleged Victim)’s past threats to harm her and his threatening, aggressive and jealous demeanor as he stood above her in an accusatory and angry state.

4. Ms. XXXX and Joseph (Alleged Victim) dated for a number of months and then lived together briefly prior to this incident. During the period of time that the two had dated, Mr. (Alleged Victim) had on multiple prior occasions displayed violent behavior towards Ms. XXXX and had made numerous threats to harm her or get even with her for breaking off the relationship.

5. Articulated below are brief offers of proof of the many past incidents threats, and acts of violence, revenge, and retaliation by Mr. (Alleged Victim) against Ms. XXXX. Evidence of these prior incidents is admissible pursuant to C.R.E. 404(a)(2) and 404(b).

a. In March 200X, Ms. XXXX and Mr. (Alleged Victim) met in St. Louis while Ms. XXXX was there to tend to her mother’s funeral. After they met, they began a long distance relationship.

b. On May 8, 200X while Mr. (Alleged Victim) was in Denver to visit Ms. XXXX, he became enraged and broke a chair in Ms. XXXX’s home after Ms. XXXX informed him that she no longer wanted to be in an intimate relationship with him. On his flight back to St. Louis Mr. (Alleged Victim) wrote and later sent Ms. XXXX a letter where among other things he stated, “I hate you cause you choke my potential.” This letter was accompanied by three photos of Ms. XXXX and Mr. (Alleged Victim) when they were dating. On each of the three photos Mr. (Alleged Victim) scrawled in black marker, “Lies,” “Luck” and “Truth,” as some type of message for Ms. XXXX. (see attached partial copy of letter and copies of three photos)

c. On or about July 30, and because Mr. (Alleged Victim) lost his job in St. Louis, Ms. XXXX reluctantly invited him to stay at her home for awhile. On the evening that he arrived in town, Ms. XXXX, her friend (Ms. Witness) and Mr. (Alleged Victim) went out to a bar to socialize. When Ms. XXXX began to talk with another man at the bar, Mr. (Alleged Victim) became enraged and began screaming at Ms. XXXX, repeatedly calling her, “A fucking slut.” Later that evening, Mr. (Alleged Victim) entered Ms. XXXX’s house and broke off the plastic shelving inside her refrigerator. Ms. (Witness) witnessed the entire span of incidents on this evening.

d. On the evening of August 17, 200X, Ms. XXXX left her house to visit a friend. When she did not return fast enough for Mr. (Alleged Victim)’s liking, Mr. (Alleged Victim) went into a rage and broke off the top of Ms. XXXX’s washing machine. Ms. XXXX then demanded that he leave her house. As a result, Mr. (Alleged Victim), began to scream, “I will fucking kill you!” Due to her state of fear, Ms. XXXX called her friend, (Ms. Witness). After being locked out of the house, Mr. (Alleged Victim) punched through Ms. XXXX’s window, shattering glass and lacerating his hand. Ms. Witness who was still on the phone with Ms. XXXX when the window broke, heard the window shatter and called police on behalf of Ms. XXXX.

e. On August 18, 200X, (Ms. Witness) and (Mr. Witness) were at Ms. XXXX’s house keeping her company when all of a sudden (Ms. Witness) looked over and saw that Mr. (Alleged Victim) was starring at them through a window. Ms. Witness’s scream startled everyone in the room. When police finally arrived, they took an enraged Mr. (Alleged Victim) into custody. While in custody, Mr. (Alleged Victim) became combative with police and screamed out to Denver Police Officer XXXXXX, “I will hurt her before I go back to Missouri!” Officer XXXXX documented this threat and behavior in her police/arrest report. (see attached police report).

f. On August 20, 200X, Mr. (Alleged Victim) sent an email to Ms. XXXX’s employer in an attempt to damage Ms. XXXX’s relationship with her employer. In this email he refers to his bitterness because Ms. XXXX ended the relationship. (see attached email).

g. On August 24, 200X, Mr. (Alleged Victim) posted a threatening message to an online website and message board of a local bicycling group. Mr. (Alleged Victim) knew that Ms. Witness and Ms. XXXX frequently ride their bikes with this group and posted messages to their friends on this message board. In his message with a subject line entitled, “You dumb Whores,” Mr. (Alleged Victim) writes, “ . . . I hate you Monarch girl (referring to Ms. Witness). You are worthless trash. You have nothing. I hate your friend with the pink wig too (Ms. XXXX). . . . I will take great pride in making your lives miserable. Piss off and remember I don’t lose.” (see attached message posted to

h. On the night of the incident which is now before this Court, and immediately after Ms. XXXX was arrested and transported to jail, Mr. (Alleged Victim) entered her house and scrawled in soap on Ms. XXXX’s bathroom mirror, “That will teach you.” He then picked up Ms. XXXX’s cell phone and called Ms. XXXX’s former boyfriend, (Mr. Witness), leaving a voicemail message, “Hey there cutie, your girlfriend’s in jail.” Before he left Ms. XXXX’s house, he wrote another note to Ms. XXXX and left it on her kitchen counter. The message states, “Lying and cheating, the only two things I ever asked you not to do and you do both.” (see photos of mirror, and copy of letter left on kitchen counter).

6. A defendant charged with Assault has the right to assert the affirmative defense of self-defense. The Colorado Supreme Court noted in People v. Ferrell, 613 P.2d 324 (1980), that evidence of prior violent acts by the victim is admissible only if the defendant knew of the victim’s prior violence at the time of the offense. The Court noted that a victim’s character trait for violence is legally relevant in a self-defense case, and evidence of the victim being the initial aggressor is made more probable with this evidence than without it. Evidence of prior violent acts by the victim is admissible as direct evidence of an essential element of self-defense, i.e. the reasonableness of a defendant’s belief in the imminent use of unlawful physical force against him, but only if the defendant knew of the victim’s prior violence at the time of the offense. People v. Lucero, 714 P.2d 498 (Colo.App. 1985).

7. The defendant in this case intends to offer several prior instances of violent action by Mr. (Alleged Victim) against the defendant in order to establish her self-defense claim. Pursuant to C.R.E. 405(b) the defendant, (Ms. Witness), (Mr. Witness) and Denver Police Officer XXXXXX may testify as to specific acts of violence by Mr. (Alleged Victim).

8. Further, Mr. (Alleged Victim) has made numerous threats to the defendant that he was going to “kill her,” “hurt her,” and “make her life miserable.” While his verbal threats are technically hearsay, they are admissible to show (Alleged Victim)’s state of mind and motive and to prove he was the initial aggressor. The Court in Sowards v. People, 158 Colo. 557, 408 P.2d 441 (Colo.1965) indicated that is was error to exclude threats made to a defendant prior to the assault.

9. Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show that he acted in conformity therewith. It may however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident. C.R.E. 404(b); People v. Garner, 806 P.2d 366 (Colo.1991); People v. Spoto, 795 P.2d 1314 (Colo.1990). Furthermore . . . anything related to the ill-feelings, jealousy, violence, or threats or any similar conduct is relevant to show motive and malice. People v. Hulsing, 825 P.2d 1027 (Colo.App. 1991).

10. The defendant also wishes to introduce evidence pursuant to C.R.E. 404(b) to show that (Alleged Victim) had a motive, the intent, and a common plan as to how he would “ . . . hurt her (Ms. XXXX) before he goes back to Missouri.”

11. Ms. XXXX wishes to also offer character evidence on her own behalf for her reputation of peacefulness pursuant to C.R.E. 404(a)(1). Ms. XXXX will offer several life friends and acquaintances who have always known the defendant to be a peaceful individual.

WHEREFORE, Ms. XXXX respectfully request this Honorable Court to allow prior transaction and character evidence of Mr. (Alleged Victim)’s violent behavior to be admitted as direct evidence in Ms. XXXX’s self-defense case. Further, Ms. XXXX requests that Mr. (Alleged Victim)’s threats against Ms. XXXX be admitted through testimony offered by Ms. XXXX, Ms. Witness and Denver Police Officer XXXXXXXX.

Dated this 20th day of February 200X. Respectfully submitted,

Christopher Hunter Cessna, #31702
Attorney for Defendant

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