ITHACA, N.Y. — Exactly seven days after opening statements, testimonies continued throughout the week for the trial for Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Vann, who was accused of attacking a woman in 2015 and trying to conceal the evidence.
Vann currently faces 14 charges against him after various incidents involving the victim, which began in Dec. 2014 – the relationship came to an end in March when Vann was accused of going to the victim’s house and assaulting her during a domestic dispute.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Johnson said to the jury in opening statements last week that the relationship between Vann and the victim was chaotic and ‘volatile’, often swinging between constant fighting and making up.
Vann’s attorney, Ray Schlather, said that despite accusations of attacking the woman, Vann had good intentions and only wanted to help the woman, who has a history of mental health issues.
Throughout the week, both the defense and prosecution have called on a series of witnesses for the case, including police and doctors who were involved in the case, and friends and family who were aware of the relationship between Vann and the victim.
What the witnesses have to say:
The victim’s mother, who was allegedly close with Vann, gave a testimony which lasted nearly a day and a half. According to text messages between Vann and the victim’s mother, the two stayed in contact in regards to the victim’s mental health.
The mother is not being named in this report to protect the identity of the complainant.
Schlather asked the mother if she informed Vann of the measures she was taking to help her daughter with mental illness issues, to which she replied “yes.” During a trip the family took in January 2015, the mother reportedly asked Vann to “keep things stable” with her daughter while they were gone.
Despite their previously close relationship, the victim’s mother said that her feelings toward Vann had since changed, after her daughter told her about the violence between them.
Nathan Gatch testified early Friday morning and said he was aware of the relationship and knew Vann well. He recalled an incident in late January 2015 when he was working out at Island Fitness. Gatch said he saw an incident between Vann and the woman, and later saw them arguing in the parking lot.
Gatch said Vann was giving him a ride home and the woman followed them in her car. When they stopped the car, Vann got out and the woman began to kick him – Gatch said he saw the two speak and the fight ended in an embrace.
Gatch added that after the incident in March – where Vann reportedly ruined a coffee table and broke down a bathroom door at the woman’s home during their dispute – Vann contacted him. Vann had asked Gatch to return the fixed coffee table to the family, along with an envelope with $200 dollars for other damages. Gatch said the family refused to take back the items because of the impending investigation.
Jamar Dillard, who was close with the woman and Vann during their relationship, testified that he had never seen Vann get physical or violent with the victim and said, “She can be a lot to handle.”
Dillard said he was present for an incident in March 2015 where the three were out having a drink downtown when a confrontation occurred between Vann and the woman. Dillard said he saw the woman throw a drink at Vann then proceeded to hit and slap him. Dillard said he gave her a ride home that night, then paid for her to get a cab to Vann’s home.
That night Dillard said he received a missed call from Vann, and the voicemail he left said the victim had shown up at his house, thrown a bottle at his eye, and that she might be going to jail. Dillard said he arrived at the victim’s house in the early morning and was met by police.
Johnson said that the victim told police that Vann was at the house because she told him that was pregnant and had an abortion. She reportedly went on to explain to police that Vann wanted the procedure to be done but had not been present for the abortion.
Tess Gonyou, the physician’s assistant who saw the victim after the alleged assault, said she saw the woman at Cayuga Medical Center after she was checked into the ER.
“She came in saying her boyfriend had assaulted her and threw her over a fence,” Gonyou said. “I observed abrasions on her right arm, on her back, and bruising and swelling of her right ankle.”
Gonyou went on to say she did not see any evidence of self-harm on the victim — something the defense has repeatedly referred to since the beginning of the trial.
“I saw only abrasions on her, I did not see any evidence of cutting,” she said. “Had I seen that, I would have made an entirely different evaluation of the patient, which she didn’t have, and I would feel obligated to talk to the patient about self-harm.”
The other girlfriend
Galit Poole, another woman with whom Vann shared an intimate relationship with during the same time frame, was next to take the witness stand. Poole said her relationship with Vann began in January 2015 and progressed into an intimate relationship.
Poole said Vann told her that he was divorced, and had told her he had cheated on his wife because she had taken a job in another town.
Poole said while she had never formally met Vann’s other girlfriend, they had various interactions.
“The first interaction we had was at Moonie’s downtown,” she said. “As I was leaving, she came up to me and pushed me, I didn’t know who she was but she said, “Stay away from my man.”
Poole said she was under the impression that she was his ex-girlfriend.
“The picture that he painted for me was that she had mental issues and she was a crazy person,” Poole said.
Poole said she had been out downtown the night of the March 27 when Vann came to pick her up and to take her back to his home in Trumansburg. She said they were talking in the kitchen when she saw a truck pull into the driveway
“Jeremy took me to a back room and told me to keep quiet,” she said. “I saw (her) get out of the truck and she started circling the house and banging on the doors.”
Poole said Vann took her upstairs and hid her in a room that overlooked the cars in the driveway. She said she and Vann were watching from the window upstairs when the woman began kicking Vann’s truck.
“Then he loses it and he goes ballistic – I’m trying to get him to calm down but he storms out and goes outside – I just froze and remained in the room,” she explained. “She was punching his truck and he threw her to the ground. Then I left that room, went to another room and tried to calm myself down… it was quite a traumatic event.”
Poole said in the following days, she received a text message from the woman. “I basically realized at this point that we had both been lied to,” Poole said. “I wanted her to understand that we had a substantial relationship.”
The night of March 29, 2015, Poole and the woman exchanged text messages, each texting the other photos of themselves with Vann, attorneys have said. The text messages are believed to have started the argument between Vann and the woman he is accused of attacking early the next morning.
Poole’s appearance ended the round of testimonies for the week. The trial will pick back up on Monday at 10 a.m.