SAN DIEGO, California - A Filipina married to a member of the US Navy could be deported for allegedly pulling a knife out on her husband last month.
According to court documents, Marivic Rodelas Dunn unlawfully "drew and exhibited a knife in a rude, angry and threatening manner at her husband Christopher."
Dunn is also charged with vandalism for damaging property ranging from a couch, television, speakers, a computer, and a mirror.
The sentence carries a year and a half in prison, but a conviction could also lead to her deportation because her visa is expired.
Dunn has appeared in court with a Tagalog interpreter this week to set her trial date to next week.
She has pleaded not guilty and has spoken to Balitang America while in prison. Although she won't reveal details on her knife and vandalism charges, she and her friends claim she may be the true victim of this case.
Her friend “Jazz," who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity, claims that Dunn is suffering from physical, emotional, and financial abuse from her husband.
"Sa mga kwento niya at nakita ko rin at kwento ng mga kaibigan niya dati, wala talaga siyang kasalanan. Napakabait niyang tao," Jazz said.
Jazz first met the couple when they moved to the US from Japan. Dunn had also complained about domestic abuse in 2010 while they were stationed there.
“Pinabalik na sila dito sa States. I guess doon din, isa rin yung sa mga reason dahil nagkaroon sila ng problema kaya pinabalik sila rito. Parang too much trouble kasi yung ginagawa ng asawa niya," Jazz added.
She found out that Dunn's husband would not feed her and give her money, and would allegedly force her to stay inside their home. She said Christopher even cut of Dunn's phone and internet access and refused to pay for her immigration processing fees that caused her to fall out of status.
“According to Marivic, para namang may pera pero ayaw lang siyang bigyan o ayaw lang ayusin yung papel niya,” she said.
Dunn’s public defender is not ready to comment on the situation as the case heads to a jury trial next week.
Her husband has appeared in court as the victim, but declined to comment on the case. He was ordered to appear at next week’s trial.
According to Los Angeles-based non-profit immigrant advocate attorneys' Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Dunn may be able to qualify for several humanitarian visas and laws that help battered spouses gain legal status.
"One of the difficulties is...proof. A lot of immigrant victims of abuse, they're not familiar with US laws. They may not want to get their spouses in trouble so they don't always report abuses that happen to them. They may not go to the hospital for injuries. They may not have that proof even though they may legitimately be victims of abuse,” said Betty Song.
Meantime, the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles is aware of the case and will monitor and assist Dunn if needed.
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