Wife, children testify in Eagle Mountain standoff case
Walking past her husband and out of her Eagle Mountain home on Jan. 31, 2008 to waiting police officers was the scariest walk of Mindy Graham’s life.
The argument started that morning when her husband got angry when she told him she didn’t want to have sex with him, she testified at his trial on Wednesday. Matthew Paul Graham is charged with aggravated kidnapping-domestic violence, terroristic threats and domestic violence in the presence of a child for the incident in which he allegedly held his wife and children hostage before having a four-hour standoff with police. Matthew Graham, who had been in the military and served in Iraq, had numerous guns in the house.
Mindy Graham said in court that her husband’s anger mounted to the point that he strapped on his guns and told their four children that she was going to kill herself. Though the couple had argued in the past, he had never before taken his guns out during an argument, she said.
“At that point, I had resigned myself to the fact that that might be the day that I die,” she said.
She wrote her children a note because she feared what her husband might do to her, telling them that she loved them and would always be their mother. Two of their children (ages 10 and 12) testified that their father read the note to them, saying that their mother was leaving for a while to clear her head.
“It made me feel upset because I didn’t want my mom to leave,” said the couple’s 10-year-old son.
Their 12-year-old daughter said she knew her parents had been arguing that day, and by the time her father read the note to them, she didn’t know if she could trust either of them because her father was making her mother cry, and her mother seemed to be leaving them.
She said her father had a gun that day, but that wasn’t uncommon — he usually carried a gun. She described her father that day as angry — knit brows, thin lips and a “fire in his eyes.”
“He looked as angry as he did whenever he would whip us with a belt,” she said.
As the argument progressed, Mindy Graham said she felt the children should not be in the home and called a friend to take them to a movie. Matthew Graham told her the kids would not be going anywhere, and he repeatedly told her to call the friend back and tell her not to come, she said.
“He said, ‘Tell her not to come or I will shoot her,’••” she said.
Fearing her friend would not be able to help her, Graham said she sent a text message to her LDS bishop asking for help and spoke briefly with him before hanging up the phone as her husband returned to the room. The bishop in turn called police, who soon turned up at the Grahams’s residence.
Walking down the stairs to open the door, Matthew Graham said, “Here we go,” Mindy Graham testified. Though he eventually allowed her and the children to leave with officers, she said she feared he would shut the door and turn on her with the .45-caliber pistol he was holding behind his back.
Their 10-year-old son said that as his mother left the house with him and his siblings, he saw his father at the door, holding his .45-caliber pistol and a .38-caliber handgun.
Mindy Graham said she feared someone would be hurt if her husband became involved with police.
“When he said, ‘Here we go,’ I expected gunfire,” she said.
Defense attorneys questioned the consistency of her story.
Attorney Lisa Estrada noted several differences in her testimony Tuesday and her statements to police at the time of the incident. Estrada said Mindy Graham did not mention to police in three separate interviews that Matthew Graham had threatened to shoot her friend, and she said Mindy Graham told officers she was afraid Matthew Graham would hurt himself, not her. However, Mindy Graham said the day was stressful and she could not recall exactly what she told officers at the time.
Estrada also noted Matthew Graham never pointed his gun at the children or at Mindy Graham throughout the incident.
“So Matt never threatened you with a gun?” she asked.
“No,” Mindy Graham replied.
Estrada also questioned Mindy Graham about a note she wrote to her children that morning. Mindy Graham testified that she wrote the note while she feared for what Matthew Graham may do to her. On cross-examination she told Estrada she did not know what had happened to the note.