The wife of a Utah County sheriff's deputy portrayed her husband Friday as both the victim of a man who wanted to fight him at a movie theater and the victim of a "hysterical," "screaming" woman who attacked him.
"I've never been so scared my whole entire life," Leslie Curtis said. Curtis took the stand to testify about what she saw during a showing of the movie "Troy" on May 23, 2004. Her husband is being sued over an altercation at the Provo movie theater.
Curtis, the wife of deputy Harold "Skip" Curtis, said it was her husband's idea to see the movie. Once the previews began, Curtis said, she noticed a couple talking loudly behind her. "I couldn't understand the language. It wasn't English," she said.
Her husband said, "Hey, please stop." When the couple kept talking, Leslie Curtis said, her husband walked over to them and again told them to stop talking or buy tickets for him and his wife to the next show. Leslie Curtis said she got up and tried to find a theater manager but couldn't find anyone to help. The couple continued to talk, she said.
As the final credits rolled, Lorenzo Castillo walked up to her husband and demanded an apology, clenching his fists. Curtis said her husband flashed his badge, and that is when Vanessa Arnold jumped in, screaming, "Don't do this! No, no, no, stop it!"
"She was loud," Curtis said. "She was hysterical, she was screaming."
Leslie Curtis then said she saw Arnold jump on her husband's back, wrapping her legs around his waist and putting her hands on his throat.
During cross examination, Arnold's attorney questioned Leslie Curtis about why she didn't put that in her original statement to police, then saying only she'd seen Arnold grab her husband by the waist. "I was there, I saw it," Curtis responded.
Curtis' testimony was supported Friday by that of another theater patron. Cheri Wolley testified seeing "a man and two Hispanics" arguing in the theater. She said she then saw the Hispanic man "take a swing at the white man," while the woman was screaming.
On cross-examination, Wolley said her mother served for several years as a police officer but said that did not bias her testimony.
As Leslie Curtis left the witness stand, she and Wolley left the courtroom holding hands, which several jurors noticed.
Several witnesses have testified they saw Arnold being thrown off balance near Skip Curtis and falling down a flight of stairs, striking her head. Arnold says she was pushed and that she has suffered vision loss and chronic pain.
Curtis' attorney, Peter Stirba, showed the jury video footage from a private investigator who followed Arnold. The video shows her opening business doors and dialing a cell phone, having no apparent problem with her arm or eyes.
At the same time, Arnold's attorney, Austin Johnson, has tried to show the jury that Curtis has a past history of assault.
At one point Friday, Johnson tried to introduce evidence that Curtis had been indicted in 1993 by a federal grand jury for on a civil rights violation in an assault of a county jail inmate. A federal jury later found Curtis not guilty.
Arnold is seeking about $50,000 for medical bills, $40,000 in lost wages and other damages. Castillo also sued Curtis. That suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.