Wife allegedly beaten by defense attorney takes stand in trial – NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida
Wife allegedly beaten by defense attorney takes stand in trial
The wife of well-known criminal defense attorney David Brener took the witness stand to shed light on accusations against her husband on the second day of his trial.
“I was scared to death,” Shawn Brener told the jury of her feelings about her husband one weekend last year.
Brener, 57, is facing four felony charges connected to allegations that during a weekend in September of 2016 he beat his wife, Shawn, forced her to stay in their downtown condo, and terrorized her for days.
A jury was selected early Tuesday morning including two men and four women, along with an alternate.
Opening statements revealed the direction both the prosecution and the defense expect to go i n the case.
“As he was threatening her, he demanded she admit she was cheating,” Assistant State Attorney Cynthia Ross told the jury. “He couldn’t accept his wife loved him and wasn’t cheating.”
The state said they’ll bring witnesses from the Fort Myers Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, along with doctors who saw Brener after that weekend and a woman living in an adjacent condominium.
Criminal defense attorney Donald Day said the jury will get to know more about the 30-year-plus criminal defense attorney on trial, as well as his wife.
“We’ll get to hear the motivations of Ms. Brener,” Day explained. “[Her] statements changed over time.”
The accused man, typically showing minimal emotion in court hearings of his own so far, became visibly upset, crying as the trial got underway.
The first to see the wounds
The state began the trial by calling their first witnesses, a woman who saw Shawn Brener after she escaped from the couple’s condo and sought medical treatment and Brener’s first husband, who picked her up barefoot and bruised from the downtown library.
Pablo Guatzaioni, Brener’s former husband, said he got a call that Monday morning from his ex-wife who begged for his help.
Guatzaioni picked up Shawn from the downtown library, where he said she was not wearing shoes, carrying nothing with her, and bruised and cut on her face.
“She was crying,” he said. “She was afraid of being followed, very afraid.”
Guatzaioni took Shawn to her brother’s home, what she called a safe place to go. A day later, he picked her up and took her to get medical treatment. That’s when police got involved.
Memories of the victim
Shawn Brener sat on the witness stand for more than three hours on Tuesday.
“He was interrogating me, asking questions, then he smacked me in the face,” she explained about how the incident began from what she remembers. “I was on my hands and knees on the floor when he peed on me on my back.”
The details of the allegations made her emotional at times, as she shared memories of a verbal debate between her and David Brener where she said he demanded she admit to cheating on him. She said she never cheated but eventually told him she did after he threatened to hit her on the head with a gun, but she said Brener began to show remorse at one point.
“All I remember is being hit and it [her face] busted open,” she told the jury. “He noticed how bad it hurt me and slowed down at that time.”
She said Brener helped her get ice on her wound and asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital, but she said she declined.
“I didn’t want to get him in trouble,” she said. She told him she would be fine, adding, “I wanted to be OK.”
She admitted to being confused about the timeline of events that weekend, saying the beating went on for hours and continued so long that it’s hard for her to remember the details at times.
Over the course of the weekend, people visited the condominium that the couple shared as well, a fact the defense told the jury that Shawn left out of her statements to police.
The defense team began to cross exam Shawn Tuesday afternoon, asking her to detail out pieces of the incident as they occurred, pointing to questions about inconsistencies in statements.
“In your second statement to police, you didn’t mention it did you?” Day asked her about a conversation her and her husband had outside their condo on Friday evening.
Motion to mistrial
The defense motioned for a mistrial after the witness said she believed her husband would kill her and pointing to a prior incident where she said he broke her guitar.
The judge denied the mistrial but did agree to reconsider an allegation already filed on in a Williams rule motion.
The ruling on the motion was to allow testimony about a reported incident where Shawn Brener said David cut her hair with a knife and later forced her to cut the remainder of it off.
The defense noted that during her deposition, Shawn Brener represented the incident differently saying she was a willing participant in her haircut.
The judge is set to consider that issue overnight and rule on it first thing Tuesday morning.
The jury reconvenes on the case Wednesday morning when Shawn is expected to return to the witness stand to continue being cross-examined.
How the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. Can Help
If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed criminal defense attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to defend your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.
Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.