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San Francisco sheriff's domestic violence trial set for February

January 23, 2012 | 11:57 am

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Franci

San Francisco’s newly sworn-in sheriff is expected to stand trial next month on misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident on New Year’s Eve involving his wife, according to the district attorney’s office.

A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Monday set the trial date for Ross Mirkarimi for Feb. 24. A pretrial hearing is scheduled Feb. 16.

Mirkarimi, 50, was previously ordered to stay away from his wife, 36-year-old Eliana Lopez, and their 2-year-old son while the case is prosecuted. He has requested a speedy proceeding in hopes of reuniting with them sooner, and will appear in court later this week to contest the stay-away order.

Mirkarimi and Lopez have both denied that domestic abuse occurred during the incident, which left Lopez with a bruise on her upper right arm.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, a distraught Lopez went to a neighbor on New Year’s Day to confide the abuse and asked the neighbor to videotape her discussing it. In the video, Lopez reportedly says the incident marked the second time in 2011 that Mirkarimi had roughed her up. She said she was making the video in case Mirkarimi tried to take their son away from her.

The neighbor phoned police three days later. She declined to turn over the video and text messages about the incident, saying she had promised Lopez that she wouldn’t do so. However, the materials were seized with a search warrant.

According to the affidavit, Mirkarimi inflicted the bruise during a volatile fight that began after Lopez asked him if she could take their son for a visit to her native Venezuela after his inauguration. He began screaming at her that she was trying to take the boy away from her, the affidavit says.

Mirkarimi was sworn in Jan. 8. He was charged five days later with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment -– because their son was present during the incident -– and dissuading a witness.

Mirkarimi has had to temporarily relinquish his weapon. If he is convicted he will not be permitted to carry one.

Mirkarimi has refused to step down as the case moves through the courts. He has been working to hire staff for the department, which manages San Francisco’s jails and protects its public buildings. Other law enforcement duties are carried out by the San Francisco Police Department.

Mirkarimi’s attorney, Robert Waggener, on Monday called the prosecution “one of the more overblown cases I’ve seen” in his 28 years of practice and vowed to fight it.


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Photo: San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife Eliana Lopez leave a meeting with reporters on Jan. 13, before he was ordered to stay away from her. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press