Thursday, April 25, 2013 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A San Francisco man accused of punching and choking his girlfriend after a 2011 Christmas Eve party was acquitted of all charges following a jury trial, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Jurors deliberated half a day before finding Jaime Sigueiros, 29, not guilty Wednesday of misdemeanor domestic violence and false imprisonment. Sigueiros, a construction worker with no criminal convictions, wept with relief as the verdicts were read, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Herman Holland. Sigueiros faced a year in jail if convicted.
Sigueiros testified during the weeklong trial that he and his girlfriend argued during a holiday party at their Bayview apartment building after Sigueiros refused to allow her to read the text messages he had been receiving all evening. Sigueiros admitted on the stand that his relationship had been plagued by trust issues following his previous indiscretions. As a result, he said, his girlfriend’s frustration sometimes escalated into physical violence.
When the couple returned to their apartment, Sigueiros’ girlfriend continued to grab for his phone and reach into his pockets. When Sigueiros prevented her from taking the phone, she began hitting him on the arms, face and head, he testified. Sigueiros said he then grabbed his girlfriend by the upper body to restrain her, pushed her away, and left the home with the couple’s dog. Sigueiros’ girlfriend then called police, telling officers Sigueiros choked her, held her on the bed and punched her in the face twice.
A medic who responded to the apartment also took the stand, testifying that the woman’s injuries were inconsistent with being punched in the face. While she did suffer some bruising to her arms and chest, the medic testified, it was impossible to tell whether it occurred as a result of an assault or being pushed back by a person defending himself. The complaining witness did not testify in the case.
Ultimately, jurors were swayed both by Sigueiros’ credibility and the lack of evidence against him.
“Jury members found Mr. Sigueiros incredibly honest on the stand. He admitted to being unfaithful and really embraced how painful that must have been for his girlfriend. He never demonized her and said he understood why her frustrations escalated,” Holland said.
Holland argued that the complaining witness “used 911 as a sword instead of a shield,” in an effort to get Sigueiros arrested.
“Sometimes our preconceived notions about gender roles cloud our perspective when we think about domestic violence,” Holland said. “The jury approached this case with an open mind and saw it was not as black and white as the police report read.”
Adachi also applauded the verdict.
“Mr. Sigueiros was candid throughout the trial because he wanted the truth to come out. After hearing all the testimony and carefully weighing the evidence, jurors determined he committed no crime,” Adachi said.