A 36-year-old Fall River man who violently assaulted his pregnant girlfriend earlier this year was convicted at trial in Fall River Superior Court this week, and sentenced to serve five years in state prison, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced.
According to Gregg Miliote of the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, Jose Gonzalez was convicted by a jury of his peers on charges of strangulation, assault and battery of a pregnant woman, assault and battery of a family or household member, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The jury deliberated for about three hours before convicting the defendant of all charges.
On January 20, 2018, the victim went to the Fall River Police Station to get help. She reported that her boyfriend beat her up and that she was 4 months pregnant at the time. Emergency Medical Technicians arrived and treated the victim at the police station before transporting her to the hospital.
The victim reported to police that the defendant accused her of infidelity, which sparked a verbal argument. She told police the defendant then punched her, slapped her, dragged her by her hair, and hit her with a belt. The defendant grabbed her by the neck and strangled her to the point where the victim passed out. When the victim awoke, the defendant was punching her in the stomach. She fled the apartment and a friend picked her up to drive her to the police station. While speaking with police, the victim also reported an assault from one week prior, where the defendant pushed her into something and caused an injury to her arm. The victim also obtained an emergency restraining order.
Despite the abuse she suffered, the victim became extremely uncooperative during the prosecution of the case. During her grand jury testimony, she minimized the assault and denied the strangulation portion of the report.
Then, during the trial, the victim testified that this incident did not occur as described above and claimed she made the whole story up because the defendant was cheating on her. She went on to claim it was the defendant’s mistress and her friends who assaulted her.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Friedel, however, successfully argued a motion for excited utterances, a motion for the restraining order to be admitted as substantive evidence, and a motion for statement of victims state of mind. A Fall River Police officer testified as to the excited utterances (the statements the victim initially made in the immediate aftermath of the assault), observations of the victim at the station and at the hospital, photographs of the victim’s injuries, and as to the victim’s state of mind statement in the hospital. Another officer also testified as to observations of the victims injuries. This testimony, along with photographic evidence of the injuries, directly led to the conviction.
The trial was presided over by Judge Raffi Yessayan, who also imposed the five year state prison term, despite the defense’s request for a more lenient one to three year state prison sentence.
“I am very pleased the jury convicted this defendant of the violent attack on his pregnant girlfriend, despite the fact that the victim tried to undermine the prosecution of the case,” District Attorney Quinn said. “Fortunately, there was sufficient corroborating evidence to convict the defendant. He is a danger to the victim and to the community. Hopefully this sentence will adequately protect the public.”