With a beautiful and much younger woman by his side, a woman he instructed to act like a “first lady,” Democratic Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) harbored ambitions to run for governor against incumbent Chris Sununu.

Instead, the former Senate Minority Leader is facing a possible third trial on charges he assaulted his former girlfriend while he prepares for another appeal before the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Prosecutors filed a brief last week opposing the appeal, asking the justices to uphold the only convictions still standing.

Woodburn was convicted in 2021 on two counts of criminal mischief, one count of domestic violence, and one count of simple assault for a series of incidents in which he allegedly assaulted the woman and destroyed her property. After appealing those results to the Supreme Court, the domestic violence and simple assault convictions were overturned based on the argument Woodburn wasn’t allowed to argue self-defense. But the two criminal mischief convictions were upheld.

Last month’s second trial on the domestic violence and simple assault charges in Coos Superior Court ended with a hung jury. Woodburn is free again after telling jurors he bit the woman and grabbed her in self-defense.

Now, Woodburn wants a new trial on the criminal mischief counts, claiming he didn’t get a fair trial in 2021 because his original lawyer failed to sever those charges from the assault charges.

The state’s brief paints a picture of Woodburn as a controlling man with a drinking problem who made his new girlfriend fear for her safety months before he was charged in 2018. According to the brief, the woman, 17 years his junior, worked as the Democratic Party chair for Coos County and helped get Woodburn elected. He started pursuing a romantic relationship with her in 2015 as his marriage was falling apart, according to the filing.

Soon after they got engaged in 2017, the state says, Woodburn began publicizing their relationship to help his political career.

“(Woodburn) posted pictures on social media and told the victim that this was ‘very important to him,’ because dating her would help him with his career,” the filing states. “Although he liked the way that the victim could ‘approach a stranger with a Bernie sticker,’ he also told her that she should ‘behave like a first lady.’ He told her that she was not to criticize  him, ‘especially in public, because he hoped to be governor.’”

The relationship was described as “volatile,” with Woodburn losing his temper and yelling at her or kicking the door off her clothes dryer during an argument, the state says. The woman told a friend she didn’t call the police after those incidents because she felt she was at fault, and she didn’t want to get Woodburn in trouble.

According to the available record, things got violent in late 2017. After a Dec. 16, 2017, Christmas party, an intoxicated Woodburn bit the woman’s hand, leaving marks. The bite came when the woman tried to take Woodburn’s phone during the argument.

Days later, on Christmas Eve, Woodburn allegedly punched her in the stomach after he had been drinking and verbally berating her while they wrapped presents for her children. After taking half a bottle of vodka and food, Woodburn left the house, according to the filing. However, he was back a short time later, breaking into the house and yelling at the woman.

“I hate you so much; why do we do this?” Woodburn reportedly said.

The woman testified she kept blaming herself for Woodburn’s outbursts and violence and, at the same time, was too scared to get help.

“At that point, I feared what he would do to me, too. I feared what would happen to me, that he would retaliate. He knew all the police officers in the town, too,” the woman said.

In June 2018, Woodburn became intoxicated during a party and again assaulted the woman during an argument on the ride home, according to the filing, leaving bruises on her arm. Soon after that incident, they broke up as a couple, and she contacted law enforcement.

Woodburn’s lawyer, Mark Sisti, previously told NHJournal he plans to fight “tooth and nail” to clear his client.