An investigative report released Tuesday cast doubt on whether a Santa Rosa mother grabbed the throat of a 12-year-old boy while confronting him on an elementary school campus about bullying her daughter.
The seven-page report released by attorneys for Delia Garcia-Bratcher, 30, suggests the boy choked himself, leaving red marks that he later claimed were caused by the mother of six.
The theory is based on statements from a 10-year-old witness who told a defense investigator that he saw the boy put both hands around his own neck after Garcia-Bratcher left Olivet Charter Elementary School on May 16.
The boy told the principal and a sheriff's deputy what he saw, but the deputy didn't believe him because the boy was friends with two other witnesses, the report said.
The report recommends measuring any bruising to determine the size of the hand that caused the injury.
Garcia-Bratcher's attorney, Ben Adams, said he passed along the report to Sonoma County prosecutors and hopes they will decide not to bring charges at the next court date, set for June 19.
"I find it troubling that police were told, but they still put my client through this horrible ordeal," Adams said.
Adams has suggested Garcia-Bratcher is a hero for confronting the boy, and the case has received international media attention.
A spokeswoman for Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch confirmed the office received the report but declined to comment on the case.
"This is a continuing investigation," Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook said. "We're not going to discuss details about what we've received or what we're investigating."
The confrontation happened as Garcia-Bratcher was on campus to register one of her other children. She spotted her son and asked him to point out the boy who was tormenting her daughter by calling her names, she said.
What happened next is in dispute.
A sheriff's spokesman said Garcia-Bratcher walked up to the boy, grabbed his throat and then shoved him backward, warning him not to bother her daughter again.
But Garcia-Bratcher said she only talked to the boy about his bullying and didn't touch him.
After she left, the boy told a teacher he had been choked. They went to the office, took pictures of red marks and called police.
Garcia-Bratcher was called back to campus and arrested the next day. She was booked into the county jail on a felony charge of inflicting injury on a child. She was later released on $30,000 bail.
At her first court appearance Thursday, prosecutors asked for more time to consider charges.
Meanwhile, a private investigator hired by her attorney went to the school May 21 to interview potential witnesses. The investigator, Mark Adams, talked briefly to campus aide Crystal Herrell. She told him she was standing 20 feet from where Garcia-Bratcher spoke to the boy and did not hear or see any commotion, according to Adams' report.
When asked if the boy sought her help after Garcia-Bratcher left, she said no.
The interview was cut short by Superintendent Jennie Snyder, who asked Adams to leave campus.
Adams later interviewed two fourth-graders at their homes. One said he was sitting a table apart from where Garcia-Bratcher talked to the boy. The other said he was across the playground.
Neither reported seeing Garcia-Bratcher touch him. After talking to the mother, the 12-year-old sat down and finished his lunch, one boy said.
The other said he saw the boy choke himself near the campus water fountains a while later. He demonstrated how the boy did it, placing both thumbs together on the center of his neck with his palms facing upward and grabbing his own cheekbones, the report said.
The report calls for a closer examination of the marks. It concludes it is "illogical" to believe an adult could attack a student without being noticed by faculty or other students.
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