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“I can’t discuss admissibility,” Mr. Gest said. “Accusations that are unproven in court factor into prosecution decisions.”

The attorney general’s office seems determined to get this man on anything that will stick.

Mr. Gest asserted that, “Our domestic violence section represented this woman and found her credible.”

If that is true, then why did the attorney general office offer to drop the request for a protective order in exchange for a cash payment from Mr. Witaschek?

The chief of the Domestic Violence Section for the Attorney General, Janese Bechtol, emailed Mr. Witaschek’s lawyer, Howard X. McEachern, in July 2012 on behalf of the city and Ms. Landinez.

Ms. Bechtol wrote that they “would be willing to propose an out of court settlement in lieu of the CPO to tide them over until a divorce case settles matters permanently.”

The prosecutor added that, “We would ask for an agreement with essentially the provisions of the TPO, as well as $2000/month from Mr. Witaschek in rental assistance, and that Mr. Witaschek keep Ms. Landinez on his health insurance.”

If Mr. Nathan’s prosecutors truly believe this woman was “credible” about her life being in danger, then it is hard to understand why the city would trade her safety for $2,000 a month and health insurance.

Ms. Landinez denies that she authorized the assistant attorney general to make this offer. “It never, never, never happened,” she told me. “I still wanted the restraining order. I never said I would do an exchange of anything at all.”

Mr. Gest declined to comment on Ms. Landinez’s assertions. 

 The ammunition evidence

So, the city is basing its entire case on the technicality that Mr. Witaschek had unregistered ammunition in his home, which he did not know was illegal.

When the trial resumes in late March, the defense will put on its expert to refute that muzzleloader bullets can be considered ammunition under the law.

William F. Vanderpool, a retired supervisory special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will explain to the judge that the saboted lead balls have no powder or propellant attached, so are not “live.” Furthermore, muzzleloader firearms are exempt from the registration requirement.

Mr. Gest would only say  that, “We know they need gunpowder to shoot. We consider it unregistered ammunition. That is why we are filing this charge.”

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