A jury trial began Wednesday for a Morro Bay man accused of holding his former girlfriend captive in a closet at knifepoint following what prosecutors allege was months of drug-fueled domestic abuse.
Andrew Mattson, 30, was arrested in August 2011 after his then-girlfriend reported to police multiple episodes of violence over at least a two-month period that left her fearing for her life, prosecutors said.
Mattson is facing 14 felony counts including forced oral copulation, torture, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, false imprisonment, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, robbery and criminal threats. He is also facing three misdemeanor charges of contempt for committing a felony within five years of a prison term.
He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
In opening arguments Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Julie Antos said Mattson and the victim — identified in court only as “Jane Doe” due to the nature of the alleged abuse — shared a six-year relationship that ended in 2011 amid regular acts and threats of violence by Mattson.
Antos told the jury that both the victim and Mattson were regular drug users at the time. Antos said she will show the jury letters written by Mattson trying to dissuade his former girlfriend from cooperating with investigators after his arrest and a judge issued a no-contact order. She further said she expected to show jurors a sexually graphic video proving sexual abuse.
Mattson’s attorney, Robert Bettencourt, said the victim also has a long history of drug abuse that she shared with Mattson and that she lied to officers about being under the influence of methamphetamine when she was interviewed by police, only to recant more than a year later.
Bettencourt claims that after the alleged torture on Aug. 2, 2011, both she and Mattson went to a friend’s “drug house” in Nipomo to consume meth and later returned home to Morro Bay before she went back to work the next morning.
Bettencourt also argued against the robbery charges against Mattson, saying the couple mutually withdrew money from the alleged victim’s bank account to buy drugs.
“The allegations are there, but they’re lies,” Bettencourt said.
The alleged victim briefly took the stand for the prosecution, testifying that the couple had broken up months before the abuse intensified but continued to live together. She described their relationship as controlling, and that she was constantly subject to physical and mental abuse.
She said Mattson was suspicious she was cheating on him and described in detail how he bound her at the wrists and ankles with shoelaces and gagged her mouth while wielding a large kitchen knife and kept her in a closet for about an hour.
When Antos asked why she waited to call police, the alleged victim said: “I knew I would be dead if I didn’t.”
According to court records, Mattson has a lengthy local criminal history dating back to 2002 including felony convictions for possession of narcotics, possession of drugs in jail, carrying a concealed firearm and grand theft.
The trial resumes Thursday, when Bettencourt will cross-examine the alleged victim.