Conviction carries up to 10 years in prison

By: Matt Troutman

TRAVERSE CITY, MI — Screams from a 911 recording filled a Grand Traverse County courtroom after a woman testified about how an ex-boyfriend choked her.

Stephan Browning, 31, the accused, bowed his head Wednesday while the recording played. His accuser sat on the witness stand, eyes welling with tears, as she learned her 911 call reached an operator and recorded what prosecutors deemed a violent assault by Browning.

“I wasn’t alone,” the woman said, crying.

Jurors spent two days listening to testimony about the relationship between Browning and the woman, and their dueling accounts of early June 11. They ultimately on Thursday found Browning guilty of assault by strangulation and domestic violence.

Browning’s attorney Craig Elhart said he respected jurors’ verdict but disagreed with the outcome. He noted he raised a series of issues 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer ruled inadmissible in trial that could form the basis of an appeal.

The woman testified she dated Browning for more than a year before their relationship ended. She said she reconnected with Browning as a friend in May. But she found it “excessive” Browning texted her 114 times on June 10 — a day he thought they would spend together.

Browning early on June 11 drunkenly showed up at her house and she drove him home, she said. He gradually became more upset, admitted he choked her dog to death, slammed her head on a center console, took her keys and continued to assault her in an attack partly recorded on the 911 call, she said.

“He tried choking me multiple times, both from (the) front and from behind,” she said.

Assistant Prosecutor Charles Hamlyn told jurors the assault counted as strangulation.

“The important part of it is he impaired her breathing,” Hamlyn said.

Elhart, on the other hand, painted a portrait of a mismatched relationship. He called the victim a “sophisticated woman” with whom Browning, a professional gamer, harbored hope of marriage.

“He is not a sophisticated man,” Elhart said. “He’s not a ladies man. He is a geek.”

Browning made a series of bad choices in a drunken, misguided attempt to get back with the woman, but none rose to strangulation, Elhart argued.

A conviction on assault by strangulation carries up to 10 years in prison.

Article Source: Jury finds man guilty of strangulation