Former Clovis cop will face domestic violence trial

FRESNO, Calif.

"The alleged victim has admitted lying to law enforcement at least once on every incident, sometimes twice," said defense attorney Marshall Hodgkins.

Pennington is now facing two trials for domestic violence against a girlfriend. The second case stems from an incident after he'd already been charged with a felony and was under a restraining order.

The alleged victim refused to testify in the first case against Pennington, but she changed her mind about a month after the last reported incident. And as she gave the statement she says is the real story, she received a text she told investigators came from Pennington. It read: "If you testify, we'll both go to jail."

Police have taken Pennington to jail twice for domestic violence incidents involving the same woman. The alleged victim hemmed and hawed when police found her with a mark on her face and scrapes and bruises in June. She did the same after a September incident that left her with a gash over her eye and bruises to her triceps, blaming a curtain rod and a work accident. But on the witness stand Thursday, she pinned those injuries on Pennington. His attorney says it's hard to tell which story to believe.

"She didn't tell the truth when the police arrived, she didn't tell the truth to the DA investigator weeks later and who knows if she told the truth today," Hodgkins said Thursday.

Advocates for domestic violence victims, though, say it's common for victims to tell stories to protect their batterers. Pennington's alleged victim says she knew she could tell the truth when she knew the 34-year-old couldn't find her any more. But her attorney says seeing him again in court makes her uncomfortable.

"You can see the fear and it's the normal thing that a person in that position would be fearful," said Jeff Hammerschmidt, the attorney who represents the alleged victim.

Pennington resigned from the Clovis Police Department not long after his June arrest. But a conviction could affect his military reserve status and pension. His attorney admits Pennington violated a restraining order issued between the first arrest and the second. But he says the woman asked Pennington to let her and a child stay in the house.

"She was there at the times," Hodgkins said. "That is a violation of the law, but I will talk to the jury about that."

A judge decided Thursday there's enough evidence for Pennington to go on trial in the second domestic violence case. Attorneys expect to consolidate the two cases when Pennington comes back to court next month.

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