Ex-Ensign aide acquitted of domestic battery
January 26, 2012
A former aide to ex-U.S. Sen. John Ensign has been acquitted of domestic battery, but was convicted of coercion, admitting he took his ex-wife’s cell phone during an argument, and refused to give it back to her.
East Fork Justice Tom Perkins fined Kevin Kirkeby $637 for the misdemeanor offense and ordered him to complete 48 hours of community service following a Jan. 19 trial.
Kirkeby, 47, worked for Ensign for 10 years as rural director. He is a former White Pine County commissioner.
At the time of the Oct. 2, 2011, incident at the couple’s Smoketree Avenue home, Kirkeby was an applicant for Minden Town Board manager.
The victim testified at the trial that she and Kirkeby had been arguing over whether she would put her name on an application to refinance their home. She said she refused because she had filed for divorce, but Kirkeby had not been served with the papers.
She said they also argued over a list Kirkeby posted on the refrigerator of ways she and her teenage children “could respect him more.”
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The woman said Kirkeby grabbed her neck and held it for more than 20 seconds, leaving red marks.
She said she grabbed her cell phone on the table to dial 911 and Kirkeby grabbed the phone and put it in the pocket of his cargo shorts.
The woman said she went to the kitchen phone and had dialed “9-1” before Kirkeby pulled the base from the wall.
At that point, she said she went to a neighbor’s and called 911.
Kirkeby testified that he and his former wife had been arguing about the list which he said they had agreed upon and a bill from a Carson City storage facility where he believed she was placing her personal items.
He said she became very agitated and told him she was going to call her children and tell them not to come home from their father’s where they were visiting.
Kirkeby said he took the phone to keep her from dialing her children. He said he pushed her away when she kept coming after him to get the phone from his pocket. He admitted unplugging the portable phone in the kitchen.
Kirkeby’s sister Sheryl testified she found out about the arrest after she texted her brother from her home in Winnemucca. She also spoke with the victim, but denied trying to get her to drop the charges.
Sheryl Kirkeby said she knew the charges couldn’t be dropped.
“I said, ‘Do you know what you’ve done?’ He won’t be able to get a civic job, or own a gun,” she testified.
Perkins said the sentencing was difficult, saying there were issues with the victim’s relating what happened.
“At the same time, I think it’s uncontroverted that Mr. Kirkeby did several things he had no right to do. I don’t think you’re privileged to take somebody’s phone away. I think it’s against the law. I think it happened the way he said. He put the phone in his pocket and pushed her away. Whether you believe he set in motion the sequence that happened, he used force to push her away,” Perkins said.
He found Kirkeby guilty of coercion, but said he couldn’t find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of using excessive force and committing domestic battery.
“Truthfully, I am concerned about the consequences of a domestic battery conviction on him, but that’s not my business,” he said. “I’m finding him guilty of coercion. She had a right to use her phone.”
The couple has divorced, and Perkins ordered Kirkeby to stay away from the woman.
He also ordered him to complete 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling.