Man pleads innocent to choking

A Clinton man accused of choking his girlfriend after she threatened to leave him has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges.

Jay Frees, 49, entered the pleas Nov. 16 in Island County Superior Court to charges of felony harassment and second-degree assault.

The standard sentence for conviction on those charges is 17 months in jail.

According to the affidavit of probable cause written by Island County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Todd, the woman reported Frees assaulted her Nov. 9 at his Clinton home.

In the affidavit, the woman said Frees drank half a gallon of whiskey and fell asleep on Nov. 8. At around 3 a.m. the next day, he awakened her and told her to come into his room. She said she complied because she didn’t want to wake her two small children.

She said she sat on the bed next to Frees and explained she was going to leave him. She said he got mad, got on top of her, choked her and put a pillow over her face.

According to court records, Frees threatened to kill the woman and her daughter.

The woman said her throat hurt and that she could not swallow for about 10 minutes after the incident. The deputy took a photo of a red mark on her neck.

In his affidavit, Todd said he later stopped a vehicle Frees was driving in Freeland. Todd said Frees appeared intoxicated and refused to take a field breathalyzer test.

The deputy said Frees denied touching the woman, and said he didn’t know why she would make up that story.

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