Trial Set To Hear Domestic-Violence Charges Against Ex-State Senator Woodburn

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Paula Tracy photo

Former state senator Jeff Woodburn with his lawyer, Donna Brown of Manchester, at Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster on Tuesday.

By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org

LANCASTER – The trial of former three-term state senator Jeffrey Woodburn on domestic violence-related charges is expected to go to a Coos County Court jury in March after final pre-trial motions were heard on Tuesday.

Judge Peter F. Bornstein will decide whether the jury can hear evidence related to the break-up between Woodburn of Whitefield and his fiancee in which she alleges he was physically abusive.

The relationship between the then-Democratic senator from District 1, and Emily Stone Jacobs of Jefferson, who was chairman of the Coos County Democratic Committee and running for county treasurer at the time, began in 2015 and ended in the summer of 2018.

Woodburn ran unsuccessfully for a fourth term in 2018, several months after the state charged him with nine misdemeanor charges alleging criminal mischief, simple assault and criminal trespass after Jacobs complained to the Attorney General’s Office after the relationship ended.

She also lost the county treasurer’s race.

Woodburn’s attorney, Donna Brown of Manchester, argued the allegations were made to “get back” at Woodburn for ending the relationship, while at the same time making comments and taking actions that implied she wanted to get back with him.

On Tuesday, Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward had four areas of objection that he wants kept from the jury. Judge Bornstein took the requests under advisement and will rule before trial, which is tentatively set for March 13 and is expected to last two to three days.

The judge previously ruled that attorney Brown can continue representing Woodburn after the state sought to have her disqualified because of a leaked photo that was under court seal of the alleged victim jumping on Woodburn’s car.

The areas Ward wants excluded from the jury include the alleged victim’s illegal taping of conversations without Woodburn’s knowledge; whether she removed a personal journal from Woodburn’s home; her allegation that she was sexually assaulted on the night of the 2017 Governor’s Inaugural Ball, at which they were photographed and she had framed as a gift for Woodburn. The state didn’t charge Woodburn with sexual assault.

Jury lists
The jury list for the defense contains only one name, that of the couple’s counselor, Dr. Paul Donahue of Littleton.

For the prosecution, the list includes the alleged victim, Arthur McGrath of Guildhall, Vt., Christopher Liquori of Portsmouth, Philip Fournier of Littleton, Jean Jacobs of Whitefield, State Trooper Tara Elsemiller of Concord and Investigator Todd Flanagan.

Brown explained that it was Woodburn who sent Jacobs a message on June 25, 2018, that he was “done communicating” but that she continued to seek him out while she was also talking with Arthur McGrath about a list she had of the things Woodburn had allegedly done to her.

Brown alleged that Jacobs had Woodburn on speaker with McGrath present – unknown to Woodburn – where he made statements that could be brought up at trial and that Dr. Donahue called him during this period to alert Woodburn to his concern that Jacobs was “planning to get back at you.”

Brown noted a July 4 parade after the break-up where Woodburn saw Jacobs and a July 5 text where she wrote “don’t you miss hugging me?” arguing that she was hoping to reconcile while at the same time pulling together evidence against Woodburn.

Woodburn has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will argue self-defense. The charges allege he bit her forearm and hand, threw a cup of water at her, kicked her dryer door, forced open a locked door, and struck her in the stomach with his hand.

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