Nothing that has ever happened to Jacob Siegfried has ever been his fault, said Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ow.
In Ow’s opening statement Wednesday morning in Nevada County Superior Court, she characterized the defendant in the 11-count domestic violence trial as conducting a “cat-and-mouse game” with his ex-girlfriend, using their son as his pawn.
Siegfried was initially arrested in early September 2011 after he allegedly had refused to return his child to the custodial mother after taking him to Burning Man, and then threatening to take the 3-year-old boy to San Diego or Arizona. After the mother told him she would call law enforcement, he allegedly threatened to slit their son’s throat and also allegedly made multiple threats to beat her and stab her. In November of that same year, Siegfried allegedly grabbed his ex-girlfriend by the hair and tried to pull her into his vehicle during a child custody exchange.
“I apologize for the language you are about to hear,” Ow said before she played a voice message, replete with obscenities, left by Siegfried for Anna Oliver, his former girlfriend.
“The rage, the anger, the hatred is almost palpable,” she said. “That’s just one of the calls he made.”
According to Ow, Oliver did not call law enforcement because she was afraid of Siegfried, and didn’t want to escalate the situation. She finally did call for help Sept. 4, 2011, after Siegfried — who already was in violation of a custody order after going to Burning Man — refused to return their son and threatened to take him to Mexico, Ow said.
Siegfried also allegedly threatened to slit his throat if Oliver called law enforcement.
Siegfried’s attorney, Stephen Munkelt, said that while his client was not blameless, his actions occurred in the context of back-and-forth arguments in a dysfunctional relationship.
“One significant part of the evidence is what you won’t hear,” Munkelt said.
Munkelt said the couple began their relationship about eight years ago, and moved to Nevada County when Oliver became pregnant; their son was born in March 2008.
According to Munkelt, at one point, Oliver took the child to Utah, then to San Diego, without discussing the moves with Siegfried.
Oliver eventually returned to Nevada County in 2010, but the couple broke up again in March 2011, Munkelt said, adding that Siegfried helped Oliver financially with the move to an apartment in Penn Valley.
The angry recording heard by the jurors stemmed from a custody disagreement over the Fourth of July weekend, Munkelt said, adding that Siegfried expected to have the boy, but that Oliver took him instead to Ft. Bragg.
“Within this relationship, the vocabulary used to express frustration or anger … was rude, offensive, nasty,” he told the jurors, alleging that Oliver also would use obscenities.
“The words used … were malicious and inappropriate, but were not evidence of criminal threats,” he said, adding that Oliver did not report the call because she didn’t take it seriously.
Munkelt argued that Oliver had given Siegfried permission to take their son to Burning Man, and that he didn’t return the child because her boyfriend was at the residence when he arrived.
Oliver “made a false report,” Munkelt said. “She created an emergency situation.”
During the November 2011 incident, Munkelt said, his client had the child with Oliver’s permission. He said that she tried to grab the boy and that Siegfried tried to restrain her by grabbing her arm. Munkelt said that after Oliver accidentally sprayed herself and the child with Mace, Siegfried approached her with water — not to hurt her.
“He did try to delay (law enforcement) from catching up to him,” Munkelt said. “He is not blameless.”
But, Munkelt argued, Siegfried is not guilty of criminal threats, spousal abuse or violating court orders. He faces 11 counts of stalking, criminal threats, depriving a custodial parent of a child, making annoying telephone calls, spousal abuse, disobeying court orders and resisting arrest.
Wednesday’s testimony included Nevada County Sheriff’s Det. Dominic LaFountain, who responded to Oliver’s phone call on Sept. 4, 2011, and Sgt. Justin Martin, who located Siegfried that night at a Grass Valley motel. Oliver is expected to testify today.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.