The latest witnesses, including the defendant himself and the Sheriff’s Department investigator, spoke on Wednesday in a case involving a Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency board member charged with domestic violence.
While speaking in his own defence, Dan Mortensen, a Newhall tax barrister and local water agency board member, testified he did not know how his wife ended up face down in his own blood in their bedroom on the night of April 12, 2020.
Mortensen also said her 2016 arrest at a topless bar in Van Nuys was not her fault and that after investigators reviewed security camera footage they decided not to arrest her. charge with criminal vandalism.
Although he pleaded his innocence in court before the jury and Judge Maria Cavalluzzi at the Santa Clarita Valley Courthouse, Mortensen’s testimony was contradicted by that of the first law enforcement official at the scene, Deputy Edwin Flores.
And although he was eventually stricken from the official court record, Mortensen took time on the stand to not only have back and forth with the prosecutor and Cavalluzzi, but also to hint at the assistant district attorney having some interest in prosecute him due to him having a next election in November.
“If I wasn’t in power, I would fight this case 100%,” Mortensen said, later adding, “Is that why you’re so determined to win this case?”
At this question, Cavalluzzi and the prosecutor became animated, and the judge reprimanded Mortensen for his lack of decorum.
Mortensen also described the events as he saw them that night, as well as the events that unfolded during his arrest of Van Nuys in 2016.
As for the first arrest, Mortensen said his wife’s stepbrother took him to the bar and he couldn’t remember if it was a topless bar. As he left the scene, his wife’s half-brother believed he had been the victim of pickpocketing and the two went back inside the bar to find the money, the defendant said.
After being kicked out by bar security, his wife’s half-brother retrieved a crowbar from his car, rammed pipes into the building, then drove off with Mortensen in the car by his side.
As they fled, the police caught up with them.
“It was like Armageddon,” Mortensen said, recounting how law enforcement gave chase. “There were about six police cars around us and a helicopter flew overhead.”
Mortensen was never charged with a crime related to the incident, based on security camera footage that investigators saw, he said. The prosecutor, during cross-examination, asked him to confirm whether he had told LA Police Department officers, “We got robbed by these bitches” and whether he had knocked on the door of the bar after to have been expelled.
Mortensen said no.
After telling his side of the story of the 2016 incident, Mortensen then said on the night in question of April 12, 2020 that he had a few drinks but went to bed hours before his wife. During the night, he thought he heard the sliding glass door to his 15-year-old daughter’s bedroom open, believing that someone was trying to enter the house.
It was then that Morgan Mortensen, his wife, tried to stop him from going out the sliding glass door to their bedroom to check on his daughter, he said.
He said he then went to their other door – unaware of what he called his wife’s drunken belligerence – and left to see his daughter. After finding his daughter on his doorstep at the end of the hall, they returned to his bedroom and found his wife on the brink of consciousness, lying face down in blood, he said.
Mortensen testified that no blood was found on him that night by investigators because, as his daughter bent down to help her mother, he went to get some ice cream. When he returned to the bedroom, the door was locked and his daughter was on the phone with 9-1-1, reporting her father for domestic violence.
That night, Morgan Mortensen told deputies that Dan Mortensen hit her with his fist, Deputy Flores said. At no time during the night did Claire or her mother mention that Morgan passed out occasionally after drinking or that she might have hit her head against furniture in the room, Flores said, referring to scenarios. alternatives raised by the defense earlier in the trial.
On Tuesday, Morgan and her daughter Claire, now 17, both contradicted their previous statements to law enforcement, saying they were confused and wrong when they initially said Dan Mortensen hit his wife. .
However, Flores said, no one in the house, including Mortensen’s wife and daughter, said that night that he was unable to do something like punch Morgan Mortensen.
“She said she heard a din; she heard her mother scream; she went to see what was going on; she was worried about her mother at the time,” Flores said, recounting the events of the night and the events leading up to the panicked 15-minute call to 9-1-1 Claire made. “She saw her father come out of the room.
Oral arguments and the start of jury deliberations are scheduled to take place Thursday at the Santa Clarita Courthouse.