Peter Nardi sought to turn the tables on his accusers during the eighth day of his sexual-assault trial on Thursday, taking the stand and claiming that he was the victim of a moody, controlling woman who was physically aggressive with him as he was trying to end their eight-month relationship.
The bruises on her jaw and arms, photographed by an Aspen Valley Hospital contract worker specializing in sexual-assault and domestic-violence cases, were the result of self-defense on his part, Nardi testified. As the woman struck him, he would raise his hands or push her away, which had the unintended effect of leaving marks on her body, Nardi suggested.
Most of the trial has focused on events said to have occurred on April 1 and April 6, 2013. The woman has testified that on the latter date Nardi beat her up, holding a pillow over her face so as not to leave bruises and cuts, and sexually assaulted her via digital penetration. The ordeal at her rented condominium lasted around six hours, ending when Nardi grew tired and decided to sleep, the Texas woman has alleged.
“Did you expose (the alleged victim) to a night of terror?” one of Nardi’s defense attorneys, Colleen Scissors, asked at the start of his testimony.
“No,” said Nardi, 51, a former Aspen bartender and local restaurant owner.
Scissors then asked him if he threatened to call “the Connecticut Italian Mafia” to keep her from reporting the incident to authorities.
“No,” he said.
“Did you call her a ‘dog bitch’?” Scissors asked, recalling the woman’s testimony last week. The alleged victim said that in February 2013, following an argument, Nardi kicked her out of his bed and into a dog bed on the floor while cursing at her.
Nardi said that the word “bitch” was not part of his regular vocabulary and that he is a gentleman.
“Did she call herself a bitch (at times)?” the attorney asked. “Was that a word she called herself?”
“Yes, ‘crazy bitch’ was what she would call herself,” Nardi replied.
Nardi recalled different points in the relationship, which started out well but began to hit sour notes during the December holidays over an issue surrounding her children and tickets to a party at Eric’s Bar.
Later, during Easter weekend, he mentioned to the woman’s daughter that her mother had been arrested for drunken driving. The daughter was not aware of that incident, according to various court testimony. That incident led to some friction during the last week of the relationship, Nardi said.
Nardi’s testimony Thursday generally focused on alternate versions of events already described by the alleged victim and other witnesses during the course of the trial.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Slothouber handled the cross-examination of Nardi and quickly brought up a text message from Nardi to the woman. In it, he referred to her, in part, as a “bitch.”
Slothouber asked Nardi if, as a gentleman, it was OK for him to text the word in lieu of voicing it. Repeatedly, as Slothouber fired off questions seeking to contradict Nardi’s direct testimony, Nardi replied that Slothouber was twisting his previous comments.
“Was it self defense when you grabbed her by the hair and dragged her?” Slothouber asked, referring to the alleged abuse in the early morning hours of April 6 last year.
Nardi denied the action.
“Was it self defense when you spit into her eyelids?” the prosecutor asked.
Nardi said he didn’t spit into the woman’s eyelids.
“Were you saying it was self defense when you left those marks on her neck?” the attorney asked.
Nardi said he didn’t know how the woman got small bruises around the hairline area of her neck, but earlier testified that the woman often fell down when they skied together.
“All I did was grab her arms and push her away,” Nardi said.
Also on Thursday, Nardi described incidents in which the woman would hit him or scratch him following her mood swings. On April 1, while he was working at Su Casa, and also trying to impress potential investors in a new restaurant he was planning, they argued. She tried to “claw out my Adam’s apple,” he said.
Nardi also disagreed with the prosecution’s contention, and the woman’s testimony, that he was jealous and controlling throughout the relationship.
The trial resumes today with the likelihood of closing arguments. Nardi also is accused of felony attempted assault and two misdemeanors in addition to felony sexual assault.