As the wife of a Japanese diplomat living in San Bruno took the stand for a third time Friday to detail abuse she claimed to suffer at his hands, the judge several times had to tell her to answer questions even if members of the consulate told her not to do so.
Yuka Nagaya repeatedly declined to answer defense questions about the woman she suspected of having a relationship with her 33-year-old husband, Vice Consul Yoshiaki Nagaya, saying she was "informed not to use names” by members of the consulate in attendance. Judge Lisa Novak had cautioned the government members not to have any contact with Yuka Nagaya but she said one approached her, and said, "you did it,” as she entered the courtroom.
Novak reminded her the consulate warnings or comments have absolutely no meaning in the courtroom.
The exchanges were just the latest helping drag out Nagaya's preliminary hearing on 17 counts of domestic violence and assault during the couple's 18-month marriage. Other unexpected twists included his wife secretly recording her testimony for a civil attorney, a translator who abruptly resigned citing fatigue and a lengthy back and forth between his wife and defense attorney over her handling of his phone. On Friday, those detailed exchanges, often marked with Yuka Nagaya saying she did not remember something, continued, particularly when she was asked specifically about her husband's alleged paramour.
Yuka Nagaya had testified for the prosecution methodically about finding a photo of another woman in her husband's cellphone which led to a confrontation in which he stabbed her hand with a screwdriver, hit her over the head with a laptop and dragged her down the hallway.
The couple married in April 2010, shortly before they moved to California for his job in San Francisco at the consulate, and she gave police photos of injuries she claims were incurred during their 18-month marriage. During her testimony, Yuka Nagaya said she thought her husband was having an inappropriate relationship with another woman because he stayed out late and had a photo of her in his phone. She said the couple argued over her suspicions and his refusal to share information about his parents' upcoming visit to California. She grew tired of cooking for him, once throwing food on the ground, and was upset he did not commemorate her birthday.
She told the court Nagaya responded by kicking, punching and scratching her as well as throwing objects and pouring milk over her head. On Tuesday, she testified that after questioning her husband about a suspicious hair in his car he knocked her down, placed his hands on her neck and said "You should die.” On another occasion, Yuka Nagaya said he stomped on her chest three or four times, leaving her unable to move on the floor for five or six hours, she said. Another time, she said an upper molar fell from her mouth while eating days after an assault in which she was struck and he placed his hand over her mouth so she couldn't breathe.
San Bruno police arrested Nagaya April 1 after he allegedly threw his wife from a car in the parking lot of their San Bruno apartment.
On Friday, defense attorney tried establishing Yuka Nagaya's mindset prior to the March 24, 2011 argument during which she said he stabbed her with the screwdriver.
"Did you tell your husband ‘just the mention of Yuri's name makes me go berserk?'” asked Lew, referencing the woman whose photo was in her husband's phone.
"I did not say that,” she said.
She did admit leaving 114 text messages on her husband's phone after he left her alone at the airport and 32 times in a six-minute span leaving voice mail messages saying "I wish I didn't get married.”
In addition to the criminal proceedings and a divorce, Yuka Nagaya is also pursuing civil action against her husband. Her attorney served him with the personal injury suit during a break in the preliminary hearing Monday and the documents filed Aug. 27 seek an unlimited amount of damages past $25,000.
The suit echoes many of the allegations made in the preliminary hearing, mainly that between April 24, 2010 and March 31, 2012, Yoshiaki Nagaya "physically, mentally and emotionally abused” his wife. The suit also refers to the screwdriver involved in one alleged incident as "miniature” which was not a description used by Yuka Nagaya during her testimony.
Durand can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.