David case apparently a tough one for jurors


Herald Writer

It was an "extremely tough case."

That’s what Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Krider said Monday at the conclusion of the assault trial of Victor David, the Marysville man charged with abusing his wife in secret for years on a filthy sailboat.

He was talking about the difficulty prosecutors faced in bringing charges against David, 60.

But it is beginning to look like a tough case for jurors, too.

Jurors on Wednesday engaged in a second full day of deliberations without announcing a verdict. Judge Thomas Wynne instructed them to return to the courthouse today to start day 3.

"The old saying is that the longer the jury is out, the better that is for the defense," said David’s attorney, Bryan Hershman of Tacoma. But he said he’s had cases where deliberations lasted days and his clients still were found guilty.

Hershman said the time being taken by the David jury tells him that jurors are either being meticulous in going over the evidence in the nearly monthlong trial or they have begun voting and have failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

"Whether it is good for the defense or not, I don’t know," Hershman said.

Jim Townsend, the county’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor, declined to talk about the length of deliberations or what they might mean.

"It would be inappropriate at this point," he said.

There will be a mistrial if jurors can’t reach a unanimous verdict. At that point, prosecutors would have to decide whether to retry the case, drop the charges or cut a deal.

Prosecutors alleged that Victor David hid his wife, Linda David, 52, away on the boat they shared with up to seven German shepherds, a couple of cats, and at one point even a wild goose. They charged that he spent years beating her.

Jurors heard from doctors who said the trauma had left Linda David brain-damaged, nearly blind, with scars covering her face and her limbs contorted by untreated fractures.

Linda David was found in that condition in January 1997, when a state social worker checked on her welfare. She was emaciated, covered in filth and barely able to move, jurors were told.

But jurors also have been told that much of that information cannot be considered as part of their verdict on the assault charge.

Because of pretrial rulings regarding the statute of limitations, jurors may only consider evidence of potential assaults that may have occurred between September 1993 and January 1997.

Any evidence about injuries older than 1993 or information about the lack of cleanliness on David’s boat aren’t directly related to the assault case, jurors were instructed.

A broken bone in Linda David’s left forearm and hemorrhages in her eyes were the only injuries prosecutors were able to show as occurring during the charging period.

Most of the doctors who testified in the case said they believe Linda David was the victim of intentional trauma, but they also conceded her broken arm and the eye hemorrhages could have been caused by accidents or illness.

Hershman argued that Linda David’s injuries were caused by accidental falls on the sailboat. But in his closing arguments, he repeatedly reminded jurors that his client didn’t have to prove anything.

Prosecutors did not call a single witness who saw Victor David so much as slap his wife, Hershman said during closing arguments.

Linda David testified that Victor David had hit her and pushed her down, but she didn’t say when that happened. She also had previously denied being assaulted.

Prosecutors argued that Victor David was the only person who had access to his wife between 1993 and 1997. They called witnesses who said the woman was not covered with scars prior to her final four years with her husband.

Linda David now lives at a Lynnwood nursing home.

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