SCV Water board member found guilty of domestic violence

Dan Mortensen. Photo courtesy of SCV Water.

A Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency board member has been found guilty of a single count of battery of a spouse, according to court officials.  

The verdict in the case against Dan Mortensen, which was read out Monday after nearly two full days of jury deliberation, was for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.  

Mortensen’s sentencing is now slated for March 29 at the Santa Clarita Courthouse. 

During her closing arguments for the case last week, prosecutor Jessica Lansky stated that both Morgan Mortensen and her daughter Claire Mortensen knew what happened that night when they told deputies that Dan Mortensen had hit his wife.  

However, during the trial, both the mother and daughter backpedaled on the statements they had given to law enforcement on the night of April 12, 2020 — the night Morgan was found face down in her own blood on the floor of her and Dan’s bedroom floor in their Newhall home. 

Lansky stated that Claire, 15 years old at the time of the incident, had said during her 15-minute 9-1-1 call on April 12, 2020, that her father had gotten in a less-severe fight with her mother once before, but he had not gone to jail for that incident.  

The 15-year-old at the time, as well as her mother, both confirmed to deputies that it was the SCV Water board member who had struck Morgan.     

Mortensen’s defense attorney, Lou Shapiro, acknowledged during his defense that Dan and his wife had been drinking that day, that the pictures in the case were disturbing, and that Claire Mortensen had made a “logical assumption” during her 9-1-1 phone call that day.  

However, the jury did not seem to accept that the prosecution’s case was merely “assumptions,” as Shapiro argued, and that there was not enough reasonable doubt to exonerate his client.  

The guilty verdict comes after Mortensen initially turned down a diversion program before the jury trial began. He had been offered 52 weeks of domestic violence classes in exchange for the criminal case being dropped.   

Judge Maria Cavalluzzi warned the Newhall-based tax attorney that a jury trial would be unpredictable. Mortensen then responded that he was 100% confident that he was going to be acquitted.   

“I’m running for office again in November,” said Mortensen, referencing his upcoming re-election campaign for SCV Water trustee area No. 3. “I’m not taking domestic violence counseling.”   

The maximum penalty Mortensen now faces includes: one year in county jail, a 10-year protective order, $2,000 fine, four years informal probation, and/or a 52-week domestic violence course. 

Shapiro, when reached by The Signal on Tuesday, declined to comment on the verdict of the case.   

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