SAN FERNANDO (CBSLA.com) — A San Fernando city councilwoman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to attacking her fellow councilmember with whom she had an affair.
Maribel De La Torre is charged with misdemeanor battery and vandalism in connection with a June 28 confrontation involving former San Fernando Mayor Mario Hernandez.
De La Torre is accused of trying to strangle Hernandez and smashing his iPad during the incident, which resulted in both parties filing restraining orders against each another.
“I will continue to say that it was in self-defense and I want it taken to trial because we will prove it was such,” De La Torre told reporters Tuesday.
Her next court appearance has been set for Sept. 20.
De La Torre’s affair with Hernandez has been public since he announced it at a council meeting last November, with his wife in attendance.
“I’d like to put out there, before, and squash the rumors, that yes, I have been in a relationship with Councilwoman De La Torre,” he said at the time.
Hernandez has since resigned from the San Fernando City Council. He has said publicly that he wants to drop his battery complaint against his former lover and that he never intended for her to be prosecuted.
In July, Hernandez submitted a statement to the District Attorney stating he refused to testify against De La Torre. He also said he wants to resume their relationship.
In court Tuesday, the judge granted the District Attorney’s request ordering Hernandez to appear in court in September to testify, but his attorney said he will not be required to take the stand due to a new state law.
“I will not testify in this case,” Hernandez said following the proceedings.
De La Torre’s potential trial is scheduled to be held in the very city she represents. Her attorney is motioning for a change of venue due to pretrial publicity and the ongoing investigation involving local police.
If convicted, she faces a $3,000 fine and up to two years in jail.
On July 16, San Fernando councilmembers voted to hold a Nov. 6 recall election for De La Torre and Mayor Brenda Esqueda, who is also accused of having an extra-marital affair.