LANCASTER — The trial of former state Senator Jeffrey Woodburn got underway Monday in Coos County Superior Court with the alleged victim on the stand for most of the day.
Woodburn, 55, of Whitefield is charged with four counts of simple assault, two counts of domestic violence, two counts of criminal mischief, and one count of criminal trespass. All nine charges are Class A misdemeanors. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts, claiming self-defense.
The trial courtroom is closed to the press and public. Instead, the trial is being livestreamed to separate rooms in both the Coos County and Grafton County Superior Courthouses for the public and media. Opening arguments could not be heard in the adjoining room in Coos Courthouse and the trial had to be stopped near the end of the arguments to adjust the audio feed. Even then, the quality of the sound was poor.
The state called the alleged victim as its first witness.
Under direct examination by state Assistance Attorney General Geoffrey Ward, she appeared at times to be teary as she described how the defendant threw water at her, punched her in the stomach and bit her twice. The alleged victim recounted how Woodburn bit her hand when she tried to grab his cell phone after she pulled to the side of the road coming home from a Christmas party in December 2017 because he wanted to get out of her car.
“It hurt a lot. It hurt so bad,” she testified.
The alleged victim said she and Woodburn had become friends through their involvement in Democratic politics and it turned into an intimate relationship. The alleged victim was head of the Coos County Democratic Party.
The state sought to draw a picture of Woodburn as controlling. The alleged victim said Woodburn was planning a future run for governor and told her never to criticize him in public.
Ward also asked the alleged victim about her friendship with Arthur McGrath. She said McGrath was a friend of Woodburn’s from high school. She testified she and McGrath became real good friends and she confided in him about the troubles in her relationship with Woodburn.
Defense Attorney Donna Brown began her cross examination of the alleged victim Monday afternoon but there were frequent objections by the state. Court broke just before 4 p.m.
Coos Superior Court Justice Peter Bornstein denied motions by The Berlin Sun and New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism to allow the press to attend the trial in person or to at least allow reporters to access it remotely from home on WebEx.
“The procedures in place for livestreaming this trial to two other courtrooms to which the public has access are consistent with constitutional mandates and federal and state law, and with the superior court’s protocols for providing public access to trials in which the defendant is charged with domestic violence offenses,” Bornstein wrote in denying the two motions.
Look for updates on the trial on The Berlin Sun Facebook page.