Assistant City Prosecutor Joe Everett yesterday at the trial of three people accused of a hate crime against homeless people in Occidental Park.
  • Cienna Madrid
  • Assistant City Prosecutor Joe Everett yesterday at the trial of three people accused of a hate crime against homeless people in Occidental Park.

Tuesday morning's cross-examination of Mia Jarvinen, one of three defendants on trial for allegedly attacking a group of homeless men in Pioneer Square last spring, was swift and brutal:

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“You testified on Friday that you worked in a soup kitchen before,” began Assistant City Prosecutor Danielle Malcolm. “Was that before or after March 15?”

“That was after March 15,” Jarvinen conceded. “I'd done some volunteer work before, but not in a soup kitchen.”

Of course, it was on March 15 that city prosecutors say Jarvinen, along with former Seattle firefighters Scott Bullene and Robert Howell, attacked several homeless men near the Seattle Firefighter's Memorial in Occidental Park. The trio has been charged with assault and malicious harassment (the latter of which is defined as a hate crime because homeless people are a protected class in Seattle).

The city's case has hinged on proving that Jarvinen, Bullene, and Howell all targeted their victims because of their perceived homelessness, allegedly calling them “scum,” “thankless,” and “moochers,” among other things. All of these statements, the prosecution has argued, show that the incident was sparked because of the victims' social status. Meanwhile, the three defense teams have done their best to paint their clients as—to be blunt—humane. All three defendants testified last week that they were the victims of an unprovoked attack.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, Jarvinen stated repeatedly that she did not know the victims were homeless when the trio came upon them in the park. “I think it's hard to tell what homelessness looks like,” she said, noting that these men were casually dressed in hoodies and jeans.

So the prosecution took another tactic, systematically illustrating for the jury that a reasonable passerby would conclude that the victims were homeless, and starting with the prosecution's first witness, Simon McDonald. Malcolm, the assistant city prosecutor, forced Jarvinen to acknowledge that she came across a man lying next to the memorial, surrounded by his stuff—essentially sleeping or resting outside.

Malcolm then calmly chipped away at the defense's allegation that Jarvinen, Bullene, and Howell were in fact the victims of an unprovoked attack launched by another homeless man.

Malcolm: You said you were “pretty much” assaulted, that's what you told Officer Poblocki, right?

Jarvinen: That is correct.

Malcolm: That he exhibited aggressive behavior?

Jarvinen: Yeah, his behavior was aggressive not only towards me but like he wanted to start a fight again.

Malcolm: You grabbed him and said, “don't get closer.”

Jarvinen: That's correct.

Malcolm: He backed up then.

Jarvinen: That's correct.

Malcolm: He didn't touch you at all, did he?

Jarvinen: That's correct.

Malcolm then bluntly asked Jarvinen if she'd assaulted any of the victims. “I would say I don't think I did anything criminal,” Jarvinen replied tearfully. “I won't disagree that maybe it wasn't the nice thing to do, or maybe it was rude.”

Malcolm: You were “pretty much” assaulted... [yet] even according to your own version of events, you did more than “pretty much” assault someone, didn't you?

Jarvinen: I didn't assault anyone.

Malcolm reminded Jarvinen that she approached a man sleeping on the ground, not the other way around, and that she told him to leave the park, and that when she didn't like his response to her demand, she yelled at him.

Malcolm: And you swore at him.

Jarvinen: You mean using bad words, yeah.

Malcolm: And you kicked his stuff.

Jarvinen: Yeah.

Malcolm: And you commanded him to leave this public place.

Jarvinen: I don't remember commanding him to leave.

Malcolm: You testified that the man on the ground got up and left because “he realized I was serious.”

Jarvinen: That's correct.

Malcolm: And your behavior to him was threatening?

Jarvinen: He didn't seem to take it as threatening, to be honest. That's why I raised my voice.

Malcolm: And your behavior was violent?

Jarvinen: Potentially, yeah.

Malcolm: And you succeeded in making him leave.

Jarvinen: Yes.

Malcolm: And within the earshot of other people, you called him disrespectful... you said that they were thankless.

Jarvinen: I might have used that expression. I might have said they were thankless.

Malcolm: You said that you pay taxes.

Jarvinen: That topic came up pretty late in the situation...

Malcolm: You told Officer Poblocki that you're “sick of it,” that you “pay taxes,” that you're “sick of it.”

Jarvinen: At that time, I don't remember saying specifically those words. I was upset, there was this big fight, then another incident of my boyfriend being stabbed... I didn't know what was going on. I'd never seen anything like this. [I was trying to say] I'm just a normal resident here in Seattle. I pay taxes.

Malcolm: The man on the ground never touched you, did he?

Jarvinen: No, he did not.

Malcolm: The man lying on the ground made you mad, didn't he?

Jarvinen: He made me mad with his responses.

Malcolm: No further questions.

After Jarvinen's cross-examination, all three defense attorneys submitted separate motions to dismiss the charges against their clients, arguing, to varying degrees, that the prosecution's case hadn't decisively shown that each defendant committed both assault and malicious harassment, and that each defendant shouldn't be held liable for the perceived actions of the others (for instance, Bullene's lawyer argued that he shouldn't be facing an assault charge just because Jarvinen kicked one victim's food, when any physical altercation he was involved in had happened while he was defending Jarvinen).

All motions were denied by pro tem judge Catherine McDowall, who agreed that while the testimony was complicated and that "the timing of the events that happened is unclear... a jury could accept the state's version of their timing [and that] this was, particularly with respect to everything that happened at the memorial, that this was a continuing course of conduct. The jury could find that they were acting in concert, and by that I mean aiding one another in the purpose of committing these crimes."

The jury then began hearing closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, the highlights of which included Assistant City Prosecutor Joe Everett reminding the jury that they'd heard variations of the same story from nine different witnesses, all of whom testified that the defendants were the aggressors in the situation, and that it was clear that "this was not a case of self-defense. This was an attack... an attack that was carried out because these defendants here thought the men were homeless." After re-summarizing three weeks worth of testimony and admitting it was a "complicated case" with "complicated facts," Everett appealed to the jury's “common sense” and “wisdom" in finding all three guilty of assault and malicious harassment.

By contrast, Mia Jarvinen's lawyer began his closing argument by explaining every way that the jury could find his client not guilty and then advising them, "don't overthink this stuff."

Closing arguments are expected to conclude today, after which the jury is expected to begin its deliberations. If convicted, each defendant faces a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail.