PALMDALE — The 19-year-old man accused of kidnapping, assaulting and holding the mother of his child captive for more than a week must stand trial.
Giovanni McKinnis was ordered to trial on two counts of corporal injury to child’s parent, kidnapping, false imprisonment by violence, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, making criminal threats, and disobeying a domestic relations court order.
The judge’s ruling came after a preliminary hearing Monday in an Antelope Valley courtroom, where 19-year-old Tiffany P. gave emotional testimony about the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of McKinnis.
According to Tiffany’s testimony, the first of two incidents began on Dec. 25, 2013, when McKinnis came to her Palmdale home so the two could go to the movies for Christmas. An argument ensued before they left her home, with McKinnis accusing her of having sex with one of her neighbors, Tiffany testified.
The argument got physical once they got into McKinnis’s car, according to Tiffany’s testimony.
“At that point, he was in a heated rage because I broke up with him,” Tiffany said.
McKinnis drove her to various desolate areas around town, arguing and hitting her as he was driving, Tiffany testified.
Breaking into tears, Tiffany described how McKinnis choked her until she was “gasping for air,” with “foam” coming out of her mouth.
“It made me feel like the man that I love is doing this to me and it hurt…” Tiffany said. McKinnis also threatened to kill and bury her, Tiffany testified.
The Dec. 25 attack left her with marks on her chest and neck, Tiffany testified.
The second incident began two days later, on Dec. 27, 2013, according to Tiffany’s testimony. McKinnis called as she was on the bus on her way to work, and he offered to give her a ride, Tiffany testified. She said she got off the bus and went willingly with McKinnis because she wanted him to get help and “therapy.”
McKinnis did not allow her to go to work, because he feared she would tell others about the Dec. 25 attack, Tiffany testified. The couple ended up at McKinnis’s residence, where the physical abuse continued on and off until Jan. 4, according to Tiffany’s testimony.
Tiffany said she was choked and slapped repeatedly; elbowed in the face and chest more than 25 times; and bashed numerous times in the face and neck with the handle of a camping knife.
“Every time I would gasp for air he would choke me and chop at my neck,” Tiffany said.
Her jaw was broken during the abuse, and she also lost a piece of her tooth, which she later found in her food, Tiffany testified.
She said she did not leave because she feared McKinnis, and she tried escaping at least once, but McKinnis stopped her.
At one point, deputies came knocking at the door, Tiffany testified. McKinnis didn’t answer and he turned off all the lights, so the deputies eventually left, Tiffany testified.
On Saturday, Jan. 4, deputies came again, and McKinnis ordered her under the bed, Tiffany testified.
“I stayed under the bed until they rescued me,” Tiffany said.
According to sheriff’s detectives, Tiffany’s father drove from Compton to the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station on January 4 to report his daughter missing, and he provided sporadic details regarding the Christmas day incident. Deputies went to a residence in the 1100 block of East Avenue Q-4, where they arrested McKinnis and found Tiffany cowering in fear, sheriff’s detectives said previously.
In describing her injuries, Tiffany said her face was “gigantic” and she had bruises on her face and across her chest.
“I was unrecognizable,” she said.
Under cross-examination, defense attorney Robert Haberer referenced a protective order issued May 29, 2013, which prohibited McKinnis from being within 100 yards of Tiffany. The defense lawyer asked why Tiffany continued a relationship with McKinnis, despite the protective order.
“I was manipulated and controlled,” Tiffany said. She said she also stuck around for the sake of the couple’s infant son. McKinnis’s grandmother has custody of the child due “to neglect,” Tiffany said. She said “domestic violence was typical” in the couple’s relationship, but she continued to stay because she wanted to be in her child’s life.
Only Tiffany was called to the stand for Monday’s preliminary hearing.
After Tiffany’s testimony, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Christopher Estes denied the defense’s motion to dismiss the case and ordered McKinnis to stand trial on all charges. McKinnis was remanded back to custody on nearly a half a million dollars bail.
The 19-year-old is due back in court Monday, Feb. 10, for a second arraignment. If convicted as charged, McKinnis faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison.
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