A 30-year-old Maryland man was convicted of attempted murder in Napa Superior Court on Tuesday after the jury was presented with harrowing testimony of a domestic abuse case that led to a wild chase in the south county.
Following a seven-day trial presided over by Judge Scott Young, Adam Douglas Branks was convicted of 14 counts and four special allegations, including attempted murder, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, dissuading a victim from reporting a crime and evading a peace officer with wanton disregard for safety.
In a news release, District Attorney Allison Haley said Branks had tormented the victim and kept her in fear for several months. He had driven her throughout Marin, Solano and Napa counties, threatened her family, and physically abusedher.
In December, Branks stabbed the victim in the leg with a knife and refused to get her to medical treatment. Two days later, he became enraged and punched her repeatedly as he drove her car. The victim tried to escape, but he pulled her back inside the car by her hair, the district attorney said.
When law enforcement tried to conduct a traffic stop, Branks led police on a high-speed chase in excess of 100 mph, endangering numerous citizens and law enforcement. When he slowed the car to 20 mph, the victim jumped from the moving vehicle and ran towards patrol cars for safety, the DA said.
Branks rammed the patrol car behind him, turned and drove straight at the victim, attempting to run her over with her own car. Napa County Sheriff’s deputies intervened, changing the trajectory of the car and saving the victim’s life, Haley said.
Defendant fled the car on foot and became stuck in the mud on Skaggs Island, prompting rescue by a California Highway Patrol helicopter. Defendant was transported to a local hospital where he became combative with officers, threatening to kill them and attempted to escape, Haley said.
During the jury trial, multiple law enforcement officers and the surviving domestic violence victim testified against him.
“This was an atrocious case of domestic abuse that encompassed multiple counties,” said Napa County Deputy District Attorney Aimee McLeod who prosecuted the case.
“It is extremely difficult for victims in these types of cases to testify to intimate details of their lives and describe emotional and physical abuse at the hands of someone they once loved. It took great bravery for the victim to tell her story to a room full of strangers,” McLeod said in a statement.
“In addition, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our law enforcement for their heroism that day. Their response to this incident saved not only the life of the victim, but also protected the public by apprehending such a dangerous criminal,” McLeod said.
Branks, who has been held without bail since his arrest, faces over 40 years in state prison. A sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 7 at 8:30 in Department E.