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Prosecutors urge judge to make LA Kings’ player’s wife testify

Courtesy Image
Courtesy Image

In documents filed Monday, prosecutors urged a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to rule that Slava Voynov’s wife must testify in the case against the Los Angeles Kings defenseman, while her attorney argued that the law is intended to protect victims of domestic violence from being forced to testify.

Prosecutors said they were not asking the court to jail Voynov’s wife for not taking the stand, but asked the judge to order her to give testimony in private and to find her in contempt if she refused.

“The people simply ask the court to exercise all available powers to have a properly subpoenaed witness testify,” read the document in part.

Voynov is accused of punching his wife at a Halloween party and later kicking and choking her at their Redondo Beach home in October.

Police had initially responded to the couple’s residence and found nobody home, but later were called to Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, where Voynov’s wife, Marta Varlamova, was being treated.

Varlamova’s attorney Michael J. Walsh has said repeatedly that she does not want to testify against her husband and in his document, cited his client’s rights under California Civil Code Section 1219(b).

That section provides in part that: “… a court shall not imprison of otherwise confine or place in custody the victim of a sexual assault or domestic violence crime for contempt if the contempt consists of refusing to testify.”

Walsh argued that being jailed for contempt would amount to further victimization and would likely dissuade other victims from coming forward to report domestic violence, which is already an under-reported crime. Even a $1,000 fine would be “extreme,” he said.

Both sides agreed that the court could refer the victim to a domestic violence counselor for consultation.

Prosecutors said the court could take other steps to “induce” and “encourage” Varlamova to testify.

Noting that victims’ statements are often critical to making a case, the prosecutors argued that the victim should be made to testify.

“Either the victim is truthful and the jury hears of the abuse or the defendant’s confrontation rights are honored when the victim recants and prior statements are immediately admissible,” according to the prosecution’s document. Those prior statements would likely include comments Voynov’s wife made to hospital workers.

Walsh argued that if his client refused to be sworn, the court should “simply find her ‘unavailable’ and move on with the proceedings.”

A hearing on the issue is set for next Monday and the deadline for filing documents was noon today, according to a court clerk. The documents, if any, filed by Voynov’s attorney Blair Berk were not available through the court’s Public Information Office, who said the judge was reviewing filings in the case. A call to Berk was not immediately returned.

Walsh said Varlamova is concerned about her privacy and personal well- being.

“She has legitimate concerns about her privacy and her personal well- being and desires to avoid, among other things, the emotional trauma, embarrassment and destruction of her privacy that would result from being compelled to testify in this case,” Walsh wrote.

“… Ms. Varlamova simply wants to be left alone, and to that end, she is not willing to be sworn and called upon to answer any questions.”

Deputy District Attorney Frank Dunnick has insisted, however, that she has no right to refuse to testify in the case, noting that she was not claiming a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and she had no privilege as Voynov’s wife.

Voynov is charged with a single count of corporal injury to a spouse with great bodily injury.

Redondo Beach police Officer Gregory Wiist testified at a preliminary hearing that Varlamova told him she had been in a fight with her husband that began at a Halloween party the night of Oct. 19. When the couple went outside, Voynov punched her in the face, according to Wiist.

Varlamova told the officer that the couple went home, where the argument continued, and Voynov threw her to the ground multiple times, repeatedly kicked her and choked her three times. Varlamova also said her husband pushed her into a flat-screen television on the wall, and her face struck the corner of it, Wiist said.

Varlamova said the attack continued until Voynov saw the blood coming from her face, according to Wiist. He said that according to Varlamova, she asked Voynov to call for “emergency services,” but he instead called a friend and then drove her to the hospital.

The injury to Varlamova’s eye required eight stitches, Wiist said.

Voynov has been suspended indefinitely by the National Hockey League.

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