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State senator charged with domestic violence files notice of self-defense

Union Leader Correspondent

September 27. 2018 11:08PM

LANCASTER — Saying he was the victim in a volatile relationship that ended with trumped-up criminal charges being brought against him, state Sen. Jeff Woodburn indicated Thursday he plans to claim self-defense.

Woodburn, a Democrat from Whitefield, said the documents filed in Lancaster District Court “speak for themselves.” He declined to comment except to say he continues working for the residents of Senate District 1.

In August, Woodburn was arrested on four counts of simple assault, two counts of domestic violence, two counts of criminal mischief and one count of criminal trespass.

After his arrest, he resigned as Senate minority leader but remained in the Senate, despite calls for him to step down.

Until Thursday, the alleged victim’s identity has not been revealed in court documents, although she has been identified in several published accounts as Emily Jacobs, chair of the Coos County Democratic Committee.

The state alleges that between August 2017 and June, Woodburn on separate occasions bit a woman on the hand and forearm; struck the alleged victim with his hand in the face and stomach; and that he kicked in the locked door to her home.

In his notice of defense, Woodburn wrote that evidence at trial will show that Jacobs “repeatedly tried to block and/or restrain Mr. Woodburn from leaving her, including at one point her brandishing a knife and that any force Mr. Woodburn used against Ms. Jacobs was necessary for him to use in order to either leave or attempt to leave a volatile situation created by Ms. Jacobs.”

Woodburn’s lawyer, Donna Brown, also filed a motion for discovery to obtain the couple’s counseling records.

That motion states that Woodburn and Jacobs had been in a relationship since 2015, and he spent much of his time at her home in Jefferson.

The motion said there was “ample evidence” to support Woodburn’s argument of self-defense, including communications he received from the couple’s counselor, whom they began seeing in April “to address the problematic issues in their relationship.”

According to the motion, Woodburn had attempted to end the relationship several times, beginning on June 25. On July 3, Woodburn received a voice mail from the counselor saying that a conversation he had had with Jacobs was “overall, on the negative side ... how to get back at you.” The motion states the counselor advised Woodburn to “end it, in my opinion, and seek some advice.”

While Woodburn maintains that he ended the relationship and also did not reply to conciliatory messages Jacobs sent him via social media, Jacobs told police that she left him.

Woodburn is seeking reelection to his Senate District 1 seat; earlier this month he defeated a write-in challenger in the Democratic primary. He will face Republican David J. Starr of Franconia on Nov. 6.

The district includes all of Coos County and the upper portions of Grafton County.

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