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Washington (2007)

State v. Till, 2020 WL 3440539 (June 23, 2020), Unpublished

A mother was convicted for hitting and choking a six-year-old child.

On appeal, she claimed insufficiency of evidence because there was no evidence of obstruction of airflow because her child was yelling the whole time and was therefore breathing.

The court concluded that the child’s ability to scream did not mean that there was not partial obstruction.

State v. Enebrad, 13 Wash.App.2d 1035 (2020), Unpublished

There was a child custody pickup for a two-year-old. The child didn’t want to go, and there was an argument. The defendant was going to take the child, but the victim, the child’s mother, said no. The defendant choked her for 7-10 seconds, released her, and tried to leave with the child.

The victim called 911, and the defendant left the child. The victim reported that she could not breathe and was in pain. No photos were taken.

The victim sought medical attention two days later due to ongoing pain.

PA Susan Rose saw the victim and documented tenderness around the neck and bruising on her back.

The victim testified. The defendant’s cousins testified and minimized.

Appeal upheld. Court relied on State v. Rodriquez – complete obstruction not required, just that breathing is hindered or blocked only to some degree. Evidence was sufficient even without visible injury to neck. The victim’s statement was corroborated by her report to police, medical attention, and testimony.

State v. Kalac 13 Wash.App.2d 1008 (2020), Unpublished

Evidence supported premeditation. A medical expert testified about ligature strangulation and manual strangulation. The defendant tried to argue that strangulation alone is not sufficient to prove premeditation, citing State v. Bingham, 105 Wn.2d 820, 719 P.2d 109 (1986). The court distinguished and found that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to have found that the crime was premeditated.

State v. King, (2019) WL 4418186, Unpublished

The defendant was convicted of strangulation and witness tampering. There were many pieces of evidence, including a 911 tape, recorded statements from the victim and defendant, hundreds of jail calls, photos of victim’s and defendant’s injuries, crime scene photos, and expert testimony.

The defendant was convicted of strangulation and witness tampering.

State v. Stout (2017) 1 Wash.App.2d 1014, Unpublished

A mother strangled her nine-year-old daughter three times. The daughter called her father, who was a nurse. He saw bruising.

The victim said it felt like blood was rushing to her head, like she was hanging upside-down. There was repeated pressure to her neck: the victim would escape, and her mother would catch her and strangle her again.

The pressure made it hard to breathe. There was a corroborating witness and photos.

State v. Kendrick (2016) 197 Wash.App.1002, Unpublished

The defendant claimed that there was insufficient evidence to prove nonfatal strangulation

The defendant and victim got into an argument. They were both intoxicated. The defendant strangled her until she lost consciousness. When she woke up, she saw bruises to her neck, face, arms, and legs. Her eyes were red, and there was a hole in the wall.

The victim called the police. Officer Boyd took the victim’s statements and photos of injuries. The defendant made a partial admission when arrested. The victim sought medical attention.

Credibility of witnesses. Intent inferred.

State v Rodriquez (2015) 187 Wash.App. 922

The victim and defendant dated on and off for 15 years. On the night of incident, the defendant was drinking and got in a fight at a bar. After he got kicked out, he drove to the victim’s house. In the morning, the victim found him outside in the car. He appeared intoxicated. He immediately became combative.

He grabbed the victim by throat with one hand and squeezed, threatening to kick her ass. He choked her repeatedly. She had difficulty breathing. She fled from the residence with her daughter.

An officer arrived within 7 mins.  The victim was upset and afraid to go back to her house. The officer noted darkness around her neck on sides of her trachea and some swelling on one side.

The defendant claimed there was insufficient evidence because the victim’s breathing or blood flow was not “completely obstructed” when he choked her.

The court held that there is no need to prove complete obstruction – any degree of obstruction is sufficient.

A person’s breathing or blood flow is obstructed based on the amount of compression applied.

The victim was strangled three times. He squeezed hard enough to make it difficult for the victim to breathe at the time and for minutes afterwards.  It also left permanent scars on her neck.

State v. Roman (2014) 182 Wash.App.1019, Unpublished

A husband and wife got into an argument over car keys. The defendant grabbed the victim’s arm, bit her, and punched her in the chest, causing her to fall. He put her in a headlock. The victim screamed for help.

Officer Derek Makein was in the area and drove toward the screaming.

The victim reported that he “squeezed” her neck and that she saw stars.  The victim had visible injuries to her chest from being punched and her arm from being bitten. She was coughing and said her throat hurt and she was having difficulty breathing.

The officer encouraged her to seek medical attention. Dr. Bilodeau examined her.  She had petechiae, redness, swelling, and difficulty swallowing.

A CAT scan revealed a fracture thyroid cartilage and significant edema in her neck – consistent with strangulation. The pain in her throat lasted 5 weeks. She had difficulty turning neck and yawning.

The defendant claimed self defense and denied he choked her, punched her or kicked her.

The jury found the defendant guilty of strangulation and aggravated domestic violence. He was sentenced to 6 months.

State v. Morris, 168 Wash.App 1027 (2012), Unpublished

This case delved into the intent requirement in a second-degree assault by strangulation/suffocation and whether there is an additional intent requirement. In the case at bar, there was not.

State v. Bailey (2010) 157 Wash.App.1026, Unpublished

Grandmother called 911. Officers arrived and saw the defendant had the victim in a chokehold. The defendant refused to let go. Officers tased him and he released her.

The defendant was a gang member. The victim recanted. A forensic pathologist testified about strangulation: what would cause loss of consciousness, different ways to strangle, what happened to the body and what could happen, how external marks may be present but there may also be no injuries, and how sustained pressure to the neck can cause permanent brain damage or brain death by preventing oxygen to the brain.

State v. Williams (2010)156 Wash.App. 482

Two victims were strangled and raped. The defendant was convicted of rape in the first degree and second degree assault with sexual motivation. Strangulation was sufficient force to show they were forced to have sex against their will.

The victims were strangled until they lost consciousness. The second victim urinated and went to the hospital. Both had swollen and red necks and hemorrhages in their eyes.

Strangulation was substantial bodily harm or serious bodily injury.

State v. Saunders (2006) 132 Wash. App. 592

The victim’s statements to the paramedic and ER were admissible as medical diagnosis exception. The statements were not testimonial. The victim had neck pain and difficulty flexing her neck. The defendant choked the victim until she felt dizzy. Officer saw marks on neck like hand print. This was sufficient evidence of substantial pain.

 State v. Bingham, 105 Wash.2d 820 (1986) (not the best case, but from the Supreme Ct. in WA)

The State used pathologist’s testimony about manual strangulation taking 3-5 minutes. The State said that was enough to show deliberation, but the defendant said it wasn’t and that there should be other factors. 

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