This is a really sad story for me to write because the victim was a “campaign friend” of mine. I only knew her from campaigning door-to-door over the years. Sadly, her life took a turn, she moved out of her large house, into a two-bedroom apartment. And then, of all things, I got an eviction order for her! I handled it as diplomatically as I could and thought that would be the last I’d see of her.

The subpoena

I received a domestic violence subpoena from the Yavapai County Attorney in October 2017. It was kind of a last-minute thing. Yavapai County had just gotten info where the victim was staying, at a motel in my area. This man, the defendant (I’ll call him Joe because his name was Joe), was in a domestic abuse case against his wife.

It’s funny how certain elements of a situation motivate me. The secretary, Tracy, who worked for the Yavapai County Attorney, had been a Maricopa County Justice Court clerk. She was the one who reached out to me. I didn’t know her personally, but there was that connection there; I wanted to do a good job for this former court clerk. Another thing that motivated me was how arrogant and pompous the defendant, Joe, was.

I was surprised the subpoena was for the woman I’d known all those years as my “campaign friend”. I didn’t recognize her name on the document.

The owner of the motel had given me permission to help myself to coffee in the morning. Every morning I would see Joe at breakfast, but not his wife. One morning we actually stood together drinking coffee, sharing small talk. He knew why I was there, but he wouldn’t budge. Not once did he ever lead me to his wife. Now, of course, I had their room number, but he was the only one that ever came to the door.

Hidden from view

Here’s a REALLY important part of the story. Thinking about it now, I’m surprised the owner didn’t tell me this. They were remodeling the motel. The weekly guests had to move to new rooms. What I didn’t realize is that Joe’s wife had been staying in the new room, whereas I’d always been going to the old room. I knew what time Joe had to leave on the day of his trial. I made sure I was there early in the morning. I was hoping his wife would be with him, but she wasn’t. On this particular morning, I made sure he didn’t see me.

In utter frustration, I went back to the motel room one last time and knocked. Joe’s wife opened the door almost immediately, and said: “HI, ED!” I literally could not believe that the woman I’d been searching for was the woman I’d known for years. I simply had not recognized her name! I asked her if she was aware I’d been looking for her, to which she replied: “No.” She’d always been at the other room they were moving to.

If you’ve read some of these blog posts, you may have picked up on the fact that I’m self-motivated. I was angry, very angry at Joe, for misleading me about his wife’s whereabouts. He simply didn’t want her to testify. So, after she and I caught our breath, I asked her if She’d be willing to testify. “Yes,” she said, but she had no way to get there. He’d actually left her behind so she couldn’t testify.

Crossing the distance

It’s 93 miles from that motel to the Mayer Justice Court. One of the things I’ve liked about being an elected official is that I can make decisions, in the interest of justice, and not worry about losing my job. I made a decision, on the spot, to drive her to the hearing. One concern: she had two dogs, service animals she could not part with. Along they came, no problem! We left within minutes.

Because I’d know her for so long, we were never at a loss for things to talk about. She sat in the back seat, with her two dogs, and we conversed as I drove, in between phone calls. I called Tracy to explain what had happened. She was in disbelief, as was I. My biggest concern was that Joe might actually try and harm us when we showed up! I asked Tracy to arrange for sheriff’s deputies to be there when we arrived, and they were waiting in the parking lot for us.

Tracy even arranged for someone to be there to offer services, should she feel unsafe after testifying against him. The other witnesses were former neighbors, and they even offered to take her in. But, in the end, she went home with him.

Frustrated and worried

It was traumatizing for me because I worried about her. I gave her my card and asked her to reach out to me if things took a bad turn, but I never heard back from her. I even contacted the Mesa Family Advocacy Center and asked them if there was anything I could do. They said not unless she contacted me again, which she never did.

Joe was incensed when he saw us. His wife testified before a judge, and he was found guilty. He represented himself, as I’m sure he expected his case to be dismissed when his wife didn’t show up. In a strange twist, he even called me to the stand to testify. It was really absurd!

My ride home was sad and lonely. I worried about her going back home with him. She told us she had no other options.

The Yavapai County Attorney’s office wrote me a really nice letter of commendation. Here’s a portion of it: “His efforts included multiple attempts to contact the victim by phone, and in-person, surveillance of the motel parking lot in hopes of making contact until nearly 10:00 pm the evening prior to trial, and then returning the morning of the trial by 7:30 am. Due to Constable Malles’ persistence, he was able to make contact with the victim on the morning of trial, where he then confirmed her desire to aid in the prosecution of the defendant. Due to her circumstances, he then personally transported the victim, and her service animals, for trial in Yavapai County to Mayer Justice Court so she would have an opportunity to testify in the trial against the defendant.”

Domestic violence is abhorrent to me. I’ve always taken these cases seriously and did whatever was in my power to do.

 

— Ed Malles