2014 Staffing
Support Staff15

The Family Protection Division prosecutes crimes of murder, domestic violence, stalking, crimes against children, and elder abuse. The division strongly supports victims of crime and works closely with criminal justice agencies and community partners. In 2014, the division was led by Chief Valerie Summers and Assistant Chief Teresa Santana. During this time, the Family Protection Division prosecuted 1,552 domestic violence cases of which 487 were felonies and 1,065 were misdemeanors. In addition, there were 222 child abuse cases and 13 Internet crimes against children cases prosecuted along with charges filed in 256 elder abuse and seven assisted living facility cases.

Domestic Violence

Today’s misdemeanor can be tomorrow’s homicide. That’s why the DA’s Office has specially-trained Deputy District Attorneys across the county handling misdemeanor domestic violence cases from the earliest stages. The office also prosecutes felony domestic violence committed in the county. Having a prosecutor handle domestic violence cases from beginning to end ensures better courtroom efficiency, better perpetrator accountability, and better victim safety.

In 2014, the District Attorney’s Office continued working with the “High Risk Team,” created in 2011 to improve community response and victim support in the most dangerous situations. The team, led by the DA’s Office, consists of various local police agencies and non-governmental groups who meet regularly to connect victims with support.

Elder Abuse

In 2014, elder abuse was expanded to include investigation and prosecution of assisted living facilities and nursing home cases. The division added attorneys, investigators and paralegals to handle this new area of prosecution. In a true community-partnering effort, our office spearheads a grant called, “The HOPE Team.” We bring together Adult Protective Services, the San Diego Police Department and The Center for Community Solutions with the goal of protecting senior citizens. The team meets weekly and discusses individual cases in order to best serve senior victims. The team makes home visits, assists in legal advice, and provides care packages to seniors in need. Specially-trained Deputy DAs and victim advocates have proven that rapport and relationships with our elder victims endure well beyond the prosecution of any particular case.

Internet Crimes Against Children

The Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (ICAC) is comprised of law enforcement officers and prosecutors from the local, state, and national levels who work together to reduce the online sexual exploitation of children. The unit has Deputy District Attorneys specially-trained in prosecuting the exploitation of children on the internet. Efforts include full-time online investigation of Internet predators, aggressive prosecution of offenders, as well as community outreach to schools and parents.

Cases of note in the Family Protection Division during 2014 include:

People v. Zewoinesh Badasso
This defendant murdered her seven-month-old baby and then threw him out of a window, claiming he had accidentally fallen. Once the autopsy report and other physical evidence contradicted her account, the defendant changed her story and claimed that she suffered from postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which led to a psychotic state. The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and her claim of insanity was rejected by the jury.

People v. Kassim Alhimidi
The defendant in this case bludgeoned his wife to death and then staged the scene to make it look like a hate crime against Muslims. Law enforcement and the media at first believed the story given by the defendant. However, as detectives looked more closely at the evidence and conducted extensive further investigation, it became clear that the defendant had in fact committed the murder. Contrary to his assertions, the couple was having serious marital problems and his wife was planning on divorcing him. The defendant took the children to school and returned to murder his wife at home. Alhimidi was convicted of first-degree murder.

People v. Jose Torres
The defendant was a dental hygienist working with a dentist. When a minor girl went to get her teeth cleaned, he touched her inappropriately. The defendant was convicted of molestation and he is now a registered sex offender.

People v. Armando Perez
In October 2010, the defendant viciously stabbed his 19-year-old wife in a bathroom at San Diego City College. The defendant had been beating his wife throughout their short marriage. She finally left him and went back to school. The defendant kidnapped and strangled her in September and she obtained a restraining order. The defendant stalked her and finally murdered her after the victim’s evening classes ended. The defendant immediately fled to Mexico and was not captured until 2012. After many delays, a trial was finally set for November of 2014. A jury was selected and when opening statements were about to begin, the defendant spoke up and pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder charge and allegations. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.