Trial typifies problem in prosecuting cases of domestic violence

THIS JUST IN. . .

March 29, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

Three thousand miles from the trial of O. J. Simpson, who is accused of the ultimate domestic violence, a man with the physique of a Big Ten linebacker stood accused of a lesser form of the crime -- beating a pregnant woman and pushing her into a busy street. The trial took place the other day in Baltimore County Circuit Court, and lasted about as long as one of Judge Ito's bench conferences. That's because the key witness -- the victim -- changed her story and pulled right out of the fray.

It was an all-too-typical scene from the domestic violence front.

This sullen young woman sat in the witness chair below the judge's bench and said repeatedly, "I don't know," and, "I don't remember," in answer to the questions of an earnest prosecutor. A few feet away, the thick-necked man accused of the beating leaned on the trial table, watching and listening.

The young woman said she and the defendant were "just friends." Yet, she claimed to be pregnant by him. Earlier this year in Randallstown, as they argued over the pregnancy and her visit to a doctor, the big man had punched the woman in the abdomen and pushed her into the street at Liberty Road and Washington Avenue, she had claimed.

Now, in court, that story crumbled. Now, the woman seemed to be accusing herself of having started the fight. The big man, with his imposing football player physique, had only tried to stop her from "falling" into the street.

Assistant State's Attorney Steven I. Kroll pressed the woman forcefully, but unsuccessfully, to back up the accounts she had given to the police and hospital personnel at the time of the incident. After sustaining several defense objections to this line of questioning, Judge Thomas J. Bollinger told the prosecutor, "The court doesn't need a crystal ball to see what's going on." Without the woman's testimony, the judge said, he could not find the man guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He found him not guilty.

But Bollinger told the woman: "Ma'am, you are doing a disservice to every woman in this country who's suffering abuse. . . . Get out of my courtroom!" She did. And a few feet away at the trial table, the defendant grinned broadly and grinned again as he left the courtroom, a free man.

New sensitivity?

Savvy readers should have detected some irony in the previous item. Bollinger is the judge who sparked an uproar two years ago by making sympathetic comments, then giving probation before judgment to a 44-year-old theater manager accused of raping an intoxicated 18-year-old female employee. The Judicial Disabilities Commission issued a private reprimand of Bollinger for making remarks "insensitive to women's rights" in sentencing the man. Those who demanded Bollinger's head in 1993 ought to find his comments in the recent Randallstown case interesting -- the criticized-as-insensitive judge criticizing a woman for being a disservice to other women. Perhaps His Honor has been "sensitized."

Salad days

My official food taster, Joey Amalfitano, is in love with Bev Dougherty's chicken salad (though he still has strong feelings for Maxine, his girlfriend from Parkville). "Supremo chicken salad sandwich," is what Joey reports today. "Over at Casa Mia's on Honeygo Boulevard in White Marsh. They cook and mix up a 25-pound batch of their chicken salad daily. Bev bakes up about 50 chicken breasts every morning -- covered pans, 550 degrees for 90 minutes. The skin, bones and other stuff is removed and the chicken is cut into pieces. In goes the mayonnaise, celery and something that wily woman calls 'secret spices.' . . . Me, I personally prefer my chicken salad sandwich on a kaiser roll, lettuce and with a liberal sprinkling of Old Bay. Yes!!"

Not 11, not 13

Speaking of food, a lot of people said they couldn't believe that Giuliano Bugialli, famed Italian cooking instructor, insists on 12 layers in his lasagna. Gino Troia, the artful chef and restaurateur, was perplexed. Twelve layers? How can this be? It can be because Bugialli says so. He is the most militant Italian chef in the world; he doesn't say, he insists! I double-checked my notes from Bugialli's recent lecture at Baltimore International Culinary College and closely examined the photograph in his book, "The Cooking of Italy." Indeed, his lasagna has 12 layers of pasta. I tried the recipe, making the pasta from scratch and pressing it out through a hand-cranked Marcato. That's the secret -- fine sheets of egg pasta, with all the good gooey stuff pressed between. Are we all on the same page now?

Send examples of DSP

DSP is a syndrome, quite evident throughout metropolitan Baltimore, and one day it will have to be controlled in a serious way, though now may be too late. DSP stands for Dumb Suburban Planning -- inefficient and environmentally detrimental land uses, ugly and obtrusive developments, lack of foresight, bizarre mixed uses. It's actually worse than Dumb Urban Planning because it occurs with greater frequency and shows up where the landscape had been relatively pristine. There are many examples of DSP. Send your favorite to This Just In. We'll check it out, with camera and hard hat, and publish the results in time for Earth Day.

The address for This Just In is The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. The phone number is 332-6166.

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