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December 4, 2014 at 6:59 PM

Woman accused of attacking homeless man testifies in trial

A former Seattle firefighter’s girlfriend, who is alleged to have begun an attack on a homeless man in Occidental Park on March 15, took the stand in the two-week-old trial Thursday in Seattle Municipal Court.

Mia Jarvinen, 38, said she had not kicked the alleged victim, Simon McDonald while he was reclined under the Fallen Firefighters Memorial in the Pioneer Square park that day. McDonald, on the first day of trial, testified that Jarvinen had kicked him in the head.

Jarvinen, a native of Finland who is in the country on a green card and working as a financial analyst, testified that she approached the sleeping man, whom police identified as McDonald, because he appeared so unresponsive she “was worried for him.” Jarvinen said it didn’t seem safe for him to be lying on the ground there.

Jarvinen; her boyfriend, Scott Bullene, 46; and Robert Howell, 47, are each charged with misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree assault and malicious harassment, the state’s version of a hate crime, in connection with the  events of that day.

According to charging documents, the three defendants were walking through Pioneer Square after attending a Seattle Sounders game at CenturyLink Field when they saw a homeless man resting on the Fallen Firefighters Memorial.

Witnesses told police that when Howell, Bullene and Jarvinen saw the man, Jarvinen became enraged and started yelling about being “sick of it” and “paying taxes.” prosecutors say.

Jarvinen’s account differs.

She said the discord began when Howell — who testified earlier this week — approached a man he said he saw urinating on the memorial to tell him his actions were “disrespectful to his brothers.”

Jarvinen said the man, and others around him, refused to leave and said, “You can’t tell us to leave. This is our spot.”

She said that another person attempted to provoke Howell by simulating sex with the statue of the kneeling firefighter and that others in the park began to move towards Howell aggressively.

Jarvinen appeared to become tearful on the stand twice while referring to the memorial which was erected after four firefighters lost their lives fighting a 1995 at the Pang Warehouse. She denied knowing that anyone at the park was homeless, saying they appeared to be partying and were dressed in “normal, casual” clothes.

She told him it was considered disrespectful to lie on the memorial and advised him to leave, she said. But when he said he didn’t care about the firefighters, she admitted to yelling at him and kicking a bag of his “stuff.”

“He got the point when I kicked his stuff. He realized I was serious about having him leave,” she said.

She said she did not recognize the person she confronted as McDonald.

Defense attorneys say the trial is expected to conclude soon.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Fallen Firefighter Memorial, homeless, occidental park

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