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Prosecuting Attorney's Office

Daniel T. Satterberg
Aug. 11, 2010

Legislative Reform Leads to DV Felony Conviction

Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence.  It is terrifying to victims, and they often struggle for their lives.  But under the previous version of the statute, prosecutors could often only file gross misdemeanor charges when strangulation occurred.

In 2007, Attorney General Rob McKenna worked with prosecutors and lawmakers throughout the state to change the law and include assault by strangulation as a means of violating the Second Degree Assault statute, a class B felony and a "strike" offense.

In a recent case, defendant Edward Martinez was convicted of Second Degree Assault, Witness Tampering, and Violation of a Court Order for attacking and strangling his ex-wife in front of one of their young children.  The defendant strangled his ex-wife to the point that she could not breathe.  When their daughter tried to intervene on her mother's behalf, the defendant assaulted her as well.

Before the change in the law, this defendant would have faced only a gross misdemeanor charge for strangling the victim.  Thanks to the Attorney General, the prosecutor's association and the State Legislature, this offender now faces felony sanctions.  The PAO will seek an exceptional sentence when the defendant is sentenced later this month.  Senior DPA Zach Wagnild handled the prosecution of this case.

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