Livingston County Sheriff Deputy Richard Rodden charged with domestic violence
[May 14, 2007]
Former deputy's charges dropped
By Lisa Roose-Church
DAILY PRESS and ARGUS
Sunday, July 22, 2007
A former Livingston County sheriff's deputy's domestic violence trial came to an abrupt halt Friday after the prosecution learned the alleged victim had a MySpace page that called her credibility into question.
On Kimberly Rodden's Web page is a photograph of handcuffs and the words, "Make them tight. I've been bad." She also wrote, "Innocent until proven guilty" and describes herself as a "spunky, sassy Asian sensation.""I am spoiled and I get what I want," Kim Rodden posted on her Web page while bragging about a Ford F-150 pickup truck that she wanted and testified that her husband purchased for her.
The Web posting details — which came as a surprise to the prosecution — became important after Kim Rodden testified that her husband, former Deputy Richard "Rick" Rodden, handcuffed her during one alleged domestic violence incident before striking her.
"If she's a victim, I'm a Japanese aviator," Plymouth defense attorney Richard Convertino told the court.
Richard Rodden declined the Daily Press & Argus' request for an interview. However, in an emotional moment and choking back tears in court, he thanked the seven-member Livingston County District Court jury for their service.
While Richard Rodden's supporters hugged one another outside of court, his wife's supporters stood stunned as they tried to understand why the charges were dropped. One supporter of Kim Rodden's pointed a finger at Richard Rodden as he left the courtroom and said, "You know you're guilty."
Assistant Prosecutor Dan Rose said the presentation of the Web pages in court "was the first time" his office had seen that evidence. He made a motion to dismiss the charges, which Convertino immediately accepted.
"When you make a decision like this, you weigh the value of the evidence you have, the evidence you don't have, the credibility of the witness, and you make a decision," Prosecutor David Morse said Friday afternoon. "We felt it would be in the best interest of justice to not pursue it."
Richard Rodden — who was accused of striking his wife, handcuffing her and putting a pillow over her face — faces no further charges from the incidents because double jeopardy would be an issue, Morse said. Double jeopardy means a person cannot be tried twice for the same offense.
In the opening day of testimony Thursday, Kim Rodden testified that her husband would lose control. She said he kicked her, handcuffed her and slapped her on the side of the head "four or five times." She also accused him of putting a pillow on her face and trying to suffocate her.
Richard Rodden was charged with domestic violence after arguing with his wife May 14. During that argument, Kim Rodden testified, her husband used pressure point techniques on her to get her to stand up before throwing her on the couch where he "charged" on her after the ringer for a text message sounded.
She said during the argument, her husband took out what she thought was his Taser stun gun and held it down by his side. She said he pointed the gun at his head and told her that he would die for her, but would not kill himself for her.
Police later learned Richard Rodden had pulled his service weapon out, not the Taser gun.
On Friday, Convertino and co-counsel Lenore Ferber spent most of the day attacking Kim Rodden's credibility. He argued to introduce testimony about her alleged aggression in a previous marriage, but District Judge Carol Sue Reader ruled that he could only do that if he could prove the woman had been aggressive toward Richard Rodden during the argument on May 14.No testimony indicated that Kim Rodden had been aggressive toward her husband that day.
Convertino then successfully fought to admit into evidence Kim Rodden's online postings, including a photograph of her sitting in her husband's Trans Am.
After Reader ruled the Web pages were relevant to impeach the complainant's claims of domestic violence, Rose asked for a recess to talk to Kim Rodden and to call his office.
A few minutes later Rose asked to dismiss the case and Reader agreed when Convertino did not object.
Convertino echoed the judge's sentiment to the jury that had they decided the case, they no doubt would have returned a "fair and just verdict."
"This was a fair and just verdict," Convertino said. "I commend Mr. Rose for recognizing the truthfulness of the case and dismissing it."
Richard Rodden, who was deputy of the year in 2003 for the Sheriff's Department, resigned in May after being charged and after an internal investigation that revealed he had violated departmental policies, Sheriff Bob Bezotte previously said.
Asked if Richard Rodden would get his job back, Bezotte declined Friday to comment, saying, "He is no longer an employee of our department. I have no comment."
Prosecutor: Ex-deputy hit wife
Livingston Daily, MI
17 hours ago
By Lisa Roose-Church
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
Originally published July 20, 2007
An assistant prosecutor said a well-trained police officer used his training to subdue and physically strike his wife, whom he believed was having an affair, but defense attorneys say the woman's complaints came only after she was served with divorce papers.
Those comments came in opening arguments at the trial of former deputy Richard "Rick" Rodden, who is charged with misdemeanor domestic violence.
The jury trial, which was adjourned early due to a storm that knocked out power to the Judicial Center, continues today in Livingston County District Judge Carol Sue Reader's courtroom.
Testimony Thursday indicated that Rodden had previously tried to suffocate his wife, Kimberly, with a pillow, and handcuffed her before slapping her four or five times in the head during two separate arguments.
Assistant Prosecutor Dan Rose said Rick Rodden's "jealousies and concern boiled over" on May 14 when he physically struck his wife after subduing her using techniques he learned as a police officer.
"It had become an emotional torment for her," Rose said.
Plymouth defense attorney Richard Convertino said the Roddens had an "immature relationship." However, he said, Kimberly Rodden didn't make her first domestic violence complaint, which alleged the pillow and handcuff incidents, with the Sheriff's Department until April — one day after he had her served with divorce papers.
Convertino said the divorce papers came after his client "saw his wife engaged with another man." Convertino acknowledged that Kimberly Rodden indicated she didn't want to get her husband into trouble, but he questioned her motives."She went nuts," Convertino said. "She lost it. She was enraged."
Kimberly Rodden testified that it was her husband who lost control. She said during one argument about whether her husband was cheating, Rick Rodden kicked her, handcuffed her and slapped her upside the head "four or five times." She later said she thought her husband was cheating because he lied to her about talking to another woman.
Kimberly Rodden said her husband told her she was under arrest. She replied, "I'm not a criminal," and he slapped her and called her a derogatory word, Kimberly Rodden testified.
In a separate incident, the former deputy placed a pillow on her face and tried to suffocate her, Kimberly Rodden said. He also used a tracking device on her truck to find out where she was traveling, she added.
"He would completely lose control when he got angry," she said.
Kimberly Rodden said that on May 14 the couple began arguing after Rodden stepped on her cell phone. She bent over to get it and claims her husband used a pressure point technique on her to get her to stand up before throwing her on the couch where he "jumped" on her after the ringer for a text message sounded.
She said during the argument, her husband took out what she thought was his Taser gun and held it down by his side. She said he pointed the gun at his head and told her that he would die for her, but would not kill himself for her.
Police later learned Rick Rodden had pulled his service weapon out, not the Taser gun.
Convertino asked Kimberly Rodden why she told her husband to "go ahead" and shoot himself. She denied that her comment "go ahead" meant to kill himself.
"He saw everything slip away when his wife told him to shoot himself," Convertino told the jury in his opening statement.
Subsequent telephone messages, which Kimberly Rodden taped, from Rick Rodden to his wife were played in court. In those messages, the former deputy demanded to know why she was not answering her phone and used foul language.
In one taped phone conversation that occurred after Rick Rodden learned his wife had called police to report the May 14 incident, Kimberly Rodden asked her husband if he thought what he did to her was the right thing to do.
"No, Kim, I don't think it's right," Rick Rodden replied. "But I don't think it's right you're running around on me."
When Convertino asked Kimberly Rodden why she sounded so "calm and nonchalant" when she called 911, the woman said she was "trying to hold herself together."
A tape of Kimberly Rodden's call to 911 indicated a calm woman who identified herself as "Deputy Rick Rodden's wife." She told the dispatcher that her husband had assaulted her and as she described the assault.