Pittsfield man accused of choking girlfriend charged under new law


PITTSFIELD -- A city man prosecutors say has a history of domestic violence is being held without bail on charges that he choked his girlfriend.

Charles R. Wilson, 39, is facing charges under an expanded domestic abuse law signed into law last week by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Pittsfield Police responded to a Tyler Street address at about 12:34 a.m. Thursday after the man's girlfriend alleged he had choked her during an argument.

The 31-year-old woman said she had been listening to music on her headphones when Wilson began arguing with her. Wilson began choking her after she tried to quiet him down, according to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Robert Royce.

A neighbor pulled Wilson off the woman and pushed him away, according to the police report.

When officers arrived a crowd had gathered because of the disturbance, police said.

Wilson was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery on family/household member and disturbing the peace.

On Thursday in Central Berkshire District Court, Judge Paul M. Vrabel revoked Wilson's bail on a charge of witness intimidation and ordered him held without bail for up to 90 days at the request of the DA's Office. In that case Wilson allegedly threatened a woman who was a witness in another case by telling her in a phone message that he would "put all you [expletive] in the ground."

Royce told the court Wilson has a long history of domestic violence and has served jail time in several cases. He asked for $5,000 bail on the new charges.

Wilson's attorney for bail matters, Thomas C. Doyle, asked that his client be released on personal recognizance and that his bail on the other case not be revoked.

He said he understood there was a new focus on domestic violence and a new law, but that his client didn't represent a substantial risk to the complaining witness or the public.

Doyle said there were long-standing domestic issues between his client and the woman and that she only went forward with charges against Wilson when it benefited her.

Wilson is set to go to trial in the older charge next month.

Wilson is one of the first defendants in the county to be charged under newly minted legislation signed into law on Friday by the governor.

The charge of misdemeanor assault and battery on family/household member differs from assault and battery in several ways, including a higher potential fine -- $5,000 as compared with $1,000.

It also requires judges to order the defendant to participate in a certified batterer intervention program for cases continued without a finding of guilt unless the court issues specific written findings on why the defendant should be exempt from the program. Both charges have the same maximum jail sentence of 2 1/2 years.

A subsequent offense can land perpetrators in prison for up to five years.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
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