CONVICTED OF LESSER CHARGE; PLANS TO APPEAL
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 14, 2017) — On Tuesday, a trial for Los Angeles mother “Michelle Robinson” concluded with an acquittal on a charge of “spousal abuse” but a conviction of a lesser charge of “battery” against her youngest child’s father, Eric Crutchfield.
Since early spring, The Post & Email has followed Robinson’s case, whose epicenter is the loss of custody of her youngest daughter to Crutchfield in March 2016. The change in custody is directly related to the spousal abuse charge, as an LAPD detective made a referral to the Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) based on an alleged 15-minute video of the altercation between Robinson and Crutchfield in which Robinson was allegedly shown to be the “aggressor.”
It later emerged that the video was never viewed by DCFS social workers and may never have been in Detective Sean Horton’s possession.
Following the December 20, 2015 physical encounter in which Robinson sustained a human bite and sought medical attention, she filed a criminal complaint against Crutchfield with the LAPD, after which Horton was assigned to investigate it.
In phone calls with Horton during his investigation, Robinson perceived that he took a dislike to her personally, doubted her story, and then encouraged Crutchfield to file his own complaint against her.
Ten days before the altercation, Robinson had secured a restraining order against Crutchfield after she claimed domestic violence. According to California law, Robinson was not in violation of the order when she took their daughter on her first birthday to see Crutchfield for a brief visit. However, LAPD Horton evidently saw the matter differently by not only contacting DCFS to suggest that the child was placed in danger by Robinson, but also by encouraging Crutchfield to sign a criminal complaint against Robinson two months after the altercation occurred.
Although Robinson had filed a police report within 18 hours of the incident after seeking medical treatment for the bite Crutchfield inflicted on her during their December 20, 2015 altercation, Robinson was prosecuted and Crutchfield was not.
Robinson has an open complaint against Horton which is reportedly under investigation by Sergeant II Adrian Torres, #31467 of LAPD Internal Affairs, Criminal Investigative Division, Central Section.
The case against Robinson was prosecuted by Los Angeles staff attorney Buck Haddix working under City Attorney Mike Feuer.
During the two-day trial, a video lasting approximately 1:20 (one minute and twenty seconds) was aired which Robinson said showed her swatting at Crutchfield but did not show Crutchfield biting her or how the altercation began. While Robinson described the video as “bad” in regard to her defense, she said she believes it is incomplete and was “spliced.”
Robinson also said that the trial revealed that Crutchfield had not reported to the LAPD in his complaint filed two months after the altercation that he bit Robinson. She said that Crutchfield’s explanation in court was that he did so, but only in self-defense.
In an interesting development, Robinson said that the video was provided to the LAPD by the city attorney rather than the other way around. “But the city attorney never got it from the LAPD; they got it from Eric as far as I know,” Robinson told both her attorney and The Post & Email.
On Tuesday evening, Robinson indicated that she was grateful that the jury acquitted her on the official charge of “Corporal Injury on Spouse” and said that her public defender did a “phenomenal” job in the courtroom. She reported the remainder of her sentence as:
No jail time.
Restraining Order against me for Crutchfield
10 days community labor
Domestic Violence classes for one year.
No weapons possession.
She was also charged a court fee of $300 and a registration fee for community labor of $50, the latter of which Robinson said she paid.
Crutchfield’s attorney asked that Robinson pay “restitution” to his client, which Robinson said the judge denied. On that point, Robinson remarked:
I feel that the request for restitution by Crutchfield was opportunistic and indicative of his attempts to punish and harass me unnecessarily. He never sought medical care, never claimed any injury, damage, or loss, but requested restitution for what actual purpose? It was an attempt to victimize me and a tactic to exert control over me in any way; it was abusive. The judge didn’t “punish” me because he deduced that I was victimized and restitution would be adding insult to the injury to me and my baby.
For the community labor part of her sentence, she chose graffiti-removal and plans to begin her service the weekend of July 22 and 23. She reported that she will receive credit for the domestic violence classes she has already taken as part of her effort to regain custody of her young daughter, who is now almost 31 months old.
Robinson had been hoping for acquittals on both charges so as to approach the Family Court with a major change in circumstance which might lead to the restoration of custody to her.
She is continuing to pursue an appeal in Dependency Court regarding DCFS’s placement of her daughter with Crutchfield and Judge Frank Menetrez’s affirmation of that decision in a final decree on April 25.
Robinson said she plans to appeal the battery conviction as soon as possible.