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Judge won’t move battery trial for councilwoman in sex scandal

September 21, 2012 |  7:12 am

A judge on Thursday rejected a San Fernando councilwoman's bid to move her trial on battery and vandalism charges out of the city due to media publicity.

Maribel De La Torre, 41, is accused of attacking her ex-lover, former Councilman Mario Hernandez, during an argument at his home on June 28.

The two had been dating for months, a relationship that they say began after Hernandez separated from his wife.

De La Torre's attorney argued that media coverage of the case would make it impossible for her to get a fair trial in San Fernando, and asked for the cause to be transferred to a downtown Los Angeles courthouse.

But Superior Court Judge Lesley Green countered that the San Fernando courthouse draws jurors from a 20-mile swath of Los Angeles County.

Green also said that changes of venue are usually granted for very serious crimes, not for misdemeanor cases such as De La Torre's.

Outside the courtroom, De La Torre said she wants the case heard in front of a jury.

"We want to take this trial … so that the real story can be told and so that I can be exonerated of the charges brought before me," she said.

Hernandez told police that De La Torre came to his home on June 28 and slapped, punched and choked him. He also said she smashed a picture frame and slammed his laptop on the floor.

After the June incident, both De La Torre and Hernandez took out restraining orders and accused the other of being the aggressor.

But in a turn of events, the two dropped their respective restraining orders and Hernandez asked prosecutors to drop the charges. Hernandez reiterated Thursday that he would not testify against De La Torre.

It is the latest turn in a tempestuous relationship first revealed by Hernandez last November when he announced at a City Council meeting that he and De la Torre were having an affair. He made the announcement while his wife was sitting in the front row at the council meeting. Since then, the pair — along with Mayor Brenda Esqueda — have become the targets of a recall election, which was placed on the ballot for Nov. 6.

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— KTLA News

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