Eliana Lopez and Ross Mirkarimi leave San Francisco City Hall in this file photo. The trial has garnered international attention.
Just as his trial on domestic violence charges was to get underway, a plea deal was offered and accepted in the Ross Mirkarimi domestic violence case.
Prosecutors added a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment to the charges Mirkarimi faced and on Monday he plead guilty to that charge in open court.
Along with pleading guilty, Mirkarimi made some apologies in court Monday. He apologized to his family, the Sheriff's Department and the people of San Francisco. He also made a personal apology to Ivory Madison, the woman who reported the abuse to police. He said in court that Madison's intention was in the best interest of his family. District Attorney George Gascon said the apology to Madison was part of the deal.
“Domestic violence is an underreported crime that happens behind closed doors. Ivory Madison and other witnesses should be commended for their courage, “ Gascon said in a press release.
Before the deal, Mirkarimi faced misdemeanor charges of domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in connection with the New Year's Eve incident in which he allegedly grabbed his wife Eliana Lopez's arm hard enough to cause a bruise.
The change in charge means that Mirkarimi will be able to keep his gun and his job as San Francisco Sheriff. He said outside court that the plea "allows us to move forward."
He told reporters he intends to return to the business of running the sheriff's department.
Sentencing is set for next Monday.
Prosecutors said his punishment will be:
The deal was made over the weekend and followed what court watchers called a devastating blow to the defense. On Friday an appellate court panel ruled that a videotape showing a distraught Lopez with a bruise on her arm could be shown during the trial.
The 55-second video was recorded by Madison who reported the alleged abuse to police.
Mirkarimi still has at least two court appearances ahead of him. Along with Monday's sentencing, he also has the issue of a "stay away" order. He has not been able to stay at his home for weeks and only has supervised visits with his son Theo. Those issues will be carried out in family court.
At least one legal expert said the plea bargain was reasonable in this case. Peter Keane, a Golden Gate University law professor, told AP that it was "well within reason." He said, among other things, prosecutors took into account Mirkarimi's clean criminal record.
"He cut a good deal, and he did get a break," Keane told AP, adding, "Generally, domestic violence cases include much more physical and mental abuse that usually requires something more dramatic than a bruise."
Mirkarimi's wife also released a statement Monday saying she is grateful that the legal process for the case is nearly over. "Ms. Lopez is grateful that this stressful public spectacle will soon be over and that she and her family can heal," Lopez's attorney Paula Canny said. "Ms. Lopez is grateful to her husband, Ross Mirkarimi, for ending this case and doing what she believes is in everyone's best interest."