Prosecutors and defense attorneys argued Friday over whether jurors in the Peter Nardi sexual-assault trial should be allowed to review and consider certain contents of a medical record sent to the Aspen Police Department by the alleged victim.
The issue of the document and its admission as a court exhibit arose as defense co-counsel John Van Ness was cross-examining the Texas woman who is Nardi’s accuser. According to her testimony, they dated from August 2012 until April 2013. He was arrested the afternoon of April 6, 2013, after she reported to police that he assaulted her and kept her captive for several hours earlier that morning in her rented Aspen apartment.
Van Ness asked the woman about a Texas doctor’s report that she sent to police last year. The doctor did not make mention of a specific injury, a torn rotator cuff, which the woman now attributes to Nardi’s abuse. She did not make mention of the injury in her initial examination at Aspen Valley Hospital.
Instead, according to her testimony Friday, she later added information to a copy of her Texas doctor’s report, in her own handwriting, that documents the injury and lists April 6, 2013, as the day in which it occurred. In the original report, there is no mention of April 6 or the torn rotator cuff.
In court, she explained the changes, which she did not initial or sign, as her attempt “to correct the information.” The report was provided to police and the District Attorney’s Office as further evidence of her injuries.
When asked by Van Ness why she didn’t tell her doctor about the alleged incident or shoulder injury, she replied, “I didn’t want to tell him I went to Aspen and was abused by a bartender.”
Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols allowed the exhibit to be admitted into evidence, but restricted other medical information that it contains. During closing arguments — the trial began Tuesday and is scheduled to run until April 18 — the defense will be able to bring up the altered report, should they so choose.
Throughout much of the day, Van Ness sought to raise questions about her version of the April 6 incident and the events leading up to it.
He pointed out that on April 5, 2013, she sent Nardi back-to-back text messages that said, “I love you.” She said one of the messages was probably an accidental duplicate, for she wouldn’t have done that twice.
The woman — who claims that Nardi was obsessive, controlling and jealous throughout much of their time together — said she already had told him the week before that the relationship was over. The “I love you” text was simply an attempt to appease him so that he would leave her alone, she testified.
Van Ness also brought up that the two had sex on April 3 of that week, at her behest, sending Nardi a text message asking him “to make love to her” before he reported for work at the restaurant Su Casa.
The woman said she was embarrassed about having done that, and she explained the sex as a way for her to get closure so that she could be finished with the relationship once and for all.
Van Ness questioned her testimony from Thursday when she explained that Nardi, during the alleged April 6 incident, was able to pin both of her hands down behind her head with one hand while using the other hand to hit her.
But, the woman also had testified that Nardi used two hands to hold a pillow over her face as he hit her. Van Ness asked her how Nardi could have used one hand to restrain both of her hands and arms while simultaneously using another hand to hold a pillow over her face while also striking her on both sides of the head, near her ears.
The woman — who has described the early morning hours of April 6 as “hours of torture” at Nardi’s hands following her return from a party — said there were times when he pinned her arms down behind her back using the weight of his body as he struck her about the face.
The trial resumes on Monday, with prosecutors planning to address issues raised during Van Ness’ cross-examination.
In addition to felony sexual assault, Nardi faces felony attempted assault and two misdemeanor charges.