A Cowlitz County jury Friday acquitted Longview School Board member and former state legislator J.D. Rossetti of fourth-degree domestic violence assault, a gross misdemeanor.
After an all-day trial, six jurors deliberated an hour before finding that Rossetti didn’t assault his wife of four years, Amber Rosewood, at their Longview home on Aug. 17 last year. He’d been charged with fourth-degree domestic violence assault and third-degree domestic violence malicious mischief.
Following the verdict, when asked for a comment, Rossetti recited the “Apostle’s Creed” and added, “I pray that he (God) forgive the sins that people have committed against me. ... I am thankful for my U.S. citizenship and our country’s laws, and I am very thankful that our God is on our side.”
Rosewood testified that Rossetti got angry during a conversation about divorce and tried to leave the room with her keys, wallet and purse. When she stood up, Rossetti charged her, Rosewood told jurors.
Rosewood testified Friday that she hit Rossetti twice in the shoulder with a baseball bat to protect herself and get out of their sun room, which had become her bedroom. He charged her and grabbed the baseball bat and hit her twice in the side with it, causing bruising. When he was swinging the bat, Rosewood said, Rossetti also broke a chandelier and the window pane of a French door.
Rossetti alleged the opposite: that Rosewood broke those items when she was swinging the bat at him. Rossetti said Rosewood never hit him, and he never hit her. He said he was able to seize the bat during her third swing and pinned it to the ground until she promised not to hit him.
“I’m definitely embarrassed to say, I thought she was coming to give me a hug and say sorry,” Rossetti testified. “That’s not what I saw. She was swinging a baseball bat.”
Rosewood secretly audio-recorded the incident with her phone. Jurors listened to that during the trial. In the beginning of the conversation, Rossetti is heard saying “Good job, you pushed my buttons.” A few moments later, he asks, “What would you like me to break first?”
They discuss filing for divorce. He then tells Rosewood, “I’ll make your life miserable until you call the police” and “There’s nothing I can do tonight but make your life miserable.” Under questioning by city prosecutor Steve Shuman, Rossetti said he was repeating statements Rosewood had made to him in the past.
In the tape, Rossetti then apparently gets up from his chair and walks to the doorway and sees Rosewood’s keys, wallet and purse. Rosewood said he took them, and she felt he was barring her from leaving, as she said he’d done in the past. Then there are sounds of yelling, banging and glass breaking.
“I’ll (expletive) kill you,” Rosewood tells Rossetti. “I (expletive) hate you. I hate you (expletive) so much.”
Then Rosewood lets out a blood-curdling scream, which she said occurred while he was attempting to grab the bat.
Rosewood and Rossetti were married in 2012; she filed for divorce in October and moved out after the fight happened.
Rosewood called 911 the night of the incident but declined to cooperate with police until October. She said she had feared Rossetti’s retaliation if she cooperated before moving out.
When Longview police Detective Branden McNew first investigated him, Rossetti said he didn’t remember any of the events Rosewood described and wasn’t home that night. When McNew told him Rosewood had recorded the incident, “He looked at me in disbelief. Like he could not believe it. He knew I had him,” McNew testified.
Rossetti testified he actually was telling McNew that it didn’t happen the way McNew said it did and was happy there was an audio recording to set the record straight.
Defense attorney Joe Daggy asked Rosewood why she kept a baseball bat in her room and why she hit Rossetti. Daggy argued during the trial that Rossetti acted in self-defense and Rosewood was the instigator.
“I had the bat to protect myself in case he became violent,” Rosewood responded, with indignation. “That was my only way out of that room (to hit him).”
In September, Rossetti, apparently at the instruction of a domestic violence program counselor, wrote an email to Rosewood admitting and apologizing for multiple incidents of domestic violence, including taking her keys and phone, slamming a car door on her, breaking a mirror with an ironing board when she was inside a closet and punching a wall beside her.
In court Friday, Rossetti admitted only to punching the wall but said Rosewood had slapped him. He said the other incidents were either instigated by her or didn’t happen the way she described them.