Sen. Woodburn Will Claim Self-Defense Fighting Domestic Violence Charges

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Former Sen. Jeff Woodburn is pictured in front of the Gov. Hugh Gallen memorial in Franconia in this Facebook photo

By Nancy West,

Sen. Jeff Woodburn filed notice Thursday that he will argue self-defense at trial claiming his ex-fiancee Emily Stone Jacobs tried to restrain him and at one point held a knife to keep him from leaving her.

The Whitefield Democrat also filed a 54-page motion seeking records of Jacobs’ sessions with counselor Dr. Paul Donahue of Littleton. Woodburn and Jacobs entered individual and couples therapy with Donahue in April, according to the motion.

The motion for discovery – filed in the 1st Circuit District Division Lancaster – includes transcripts of emails and a voice mail from Dr. Donahue that suggest Jacobs wanted to “get back at” Woodburn for leaving her.

The motion also said Jacobs recorded Woodburn without his knowledge. Attorney Patricia LaFrance accompanied Jacobs when she was interviewed by the attorney general’s office on July 25.

“The evidence at trial will show that the alleged victim, Emily Jacobs, repeatedly tried to block and/or restrain Mr. Woodburn from leaving her, including at one point her brandishing a knife, and that any force Mr. Woodburn used against Ms. Jacobs was necessary for him to use in order to leave or attempt to leave a volatile situation created by Ms. Jacobs,” according to the notice filed by Woodburn’s attorney, Donna Brown.

Attempts to reach Jacobs Thursday were unsuccessful. Her attorney, Patricia LaFrance, didn’t respond to a request for comment and Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey W.R. Ward also couldn’t immediately be reached.

Jacobs has received support on the Coos County Democrats Facebook page that has added the purple ribbon signifying domestic violence survivor. Jacobs is chairman of the Coos County Democratic Committee and is running for Coos County Treasurer.

Woodburn has pleaded not guilty to nine misdemeanor crimes involving domestic violence against Jacobs.

Woodburn, 53, was charged with biting Jacobs’ arm and hand, hitting her in the stomach, throwing a cup of water in her face, then throwing the empty cup striking her in the face, breaking her dryer by kicking the door, kicking the locked door of her home and trespassing. The crimes allegedly occurred during a period from last August through June 10.

“There is ample evidence to support this defense as there were many times throughout this relationship that Jeff Woodburn tried to end the relationship and/or cease further communication with Ms. Jacobs,” Brown wrote.

Woodburn won the recent primary against Kathleen Kelley who got into the race at the 11th hour after his arrest. Woodburn faces Republican David Starr in the general election. Many Democrats and Republicans called for his resignation after the attorney general’s office issued a news release Aug. 2 detailing his arrest, but Woodburn said he would fight the charges.

Jacobs and Woodburn had been together since 2015 and spent much time at Jacobs’ home in Jefferson, the motion states.

Brown filed the transcript of a voice message from Dr. Donahue to Woodburn on July 3.

Brown quoted Donahue: “Yeah, I met with Emily. It was very discouraging. Very.  Seems confused about what she wants to do, but overall on the negative side…how to get back at you. I urged her to think about things before she did anything and exactly what she has in mind is hard to say, but if I were you as I said face to face, I would proceed with caution …”

Donahue’s voice mail and messages from Jacobs showed she was unhappy that Woodburn wanted to end the relationship, the motion states.

“This would explain her motive to ‘get back at’ Jeff Woodburn by bringing criminal charges against him,” Brown wrote.

Brown said Jacobs, who has a master’s degree in social work, is a mental health clinician,  works as a court advocate for domestic violence victims and staffs the hotline at the Burch House, the local shelter.

Woodburn ended the relationship for good on June 25 writing on Facebook “Ending relationship,” according to Brown.

“On July 14 about 10 days after she told her counselor she wanted to ‘get back at’ Jeff Woodburn, Emily Jacobs sent a message to Jeff Woodburn stating ‘I love you’ and ‘I only want the best for you.’ Mr. Woodburn responds to these messages by requesting ‘No more communication, please’ in a Facebook message,” Brown wrote, adding Jacobs tried to reconcile with Woodburn in July.

Woodburn did not reconcile and on July 24 arrangements were made for Jacobs to be interviewed by Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey W.R. Ward, Brown wrote.

Brown said Jacobs had a history of getting mad at Woodburn and retaliating against him if he left her home alone or didn’t come home.

According to Brown, Jacobs told police: “…my way of coping would be like throwing his stuff in the driveway…And I took some of his clothes and I put it in the drop bin at Goodwill. I mean and maybe that was wrong of me. Maybe but it was like that – that really bothered me.”

Woodburn’s trial has been moved to Haverhill and is scheduled for Dec. 17.


Earlier this month, the Berlin Sun argued in court that records detailing the allegations against Woodburn in an arrest warrant and affidavit should be unsealed, but the state insisted they should remain sealed because the investigation is ongoing. Judge John Boyle hasn’t yet ruled on the matter. Ward has also withheld Jacobs’ name.

Notice of self-defense

Motion for discovery

Courtroom Locked for Berlin Sun’s Bid To Unseal Sen. Woodburn’s Arrest Records


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