PITTSFIELD -- A 22-year-old Guatemalan man living in Pittsfield abruptly pleaded guilty to assault and battery an hour into his trial on domestic abuse related charges.

Before his trial began, Winston Perez had refused a plea deal that included no more jail time -- he spent about 5 1/2 months behind bars awaiting trial -- and the dismissal of three of four charges. He instead insisted on taking the case to trial.

But halfway through the testimony of the victim, Perez's 48-year-old former girlfriend, he changed his mind and took the deal. A jury of four women and two men had been impaneled to hear the case.

Judge Fredric D. Rutberg was sentenced Perez to the time he has served in jail.

Perez was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor assault and battery, and the Berkshire District Attorney's Office agreed to drop charges of aggravated assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot), which are felonies, along with misdemeanor threat to commit murder.

Perez was arrested Jan. 11 by the Pittsfield Police and was held on $25,000 bail.

According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano, Perez's ongoing abuse sent her to the hospital after "her body nearly gave out" on Dec. 31. According to a police report, the woman suffered internal injuries that nearly killed her.

The woman told police she felt isolated because she had no relatives nearby and didn't speak English. She said she would sometimes sleep outdoors for fear that Perez would kill her in her sleep.

She testified that Perez kicked and punched her in the stomach and leg and that she didn't go to the hospital because she didn't want to anger Perez.

The woman said she spent nearly two weeks in the hospital.

According to Yorlano, the woman eventually confided to the medical staff what had happened to her and they called police.

Perez's attorney, David C. Cafarelli, said the woman's injuries were related to a preexisting medical condition, not from anything his client did. He said the woman made the allegations because Perez broke up with her.

Cafarelli told the court that the doctor who oversaw the woman's case had earlier testified that he couldn't say "to a reasonable degree of medical certainty" that her internal injuries were caused by abuse.

The doctor did say at a hearing in January that he believed the injuries were due to a past trauma because there was no other reasonable explanation, since the woman's preexisting medical condition could not explain what he saw.

Although this case is over, Perez remains in custody. He is being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation proceedings.

Perez alleges he is here legally, but according to the DA's Office, federal authorities had no information on him and that he likely snuck into the country across one of the borders.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
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