Clearfield Man Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charges in Strangulation Case

CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man charged with strangling his girlfriend pleaded guilty to lesser charges Monday in Clearfield County Court.

Nicholas Joel Kephart, 36, pleaded guilty to simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and possession of a small amount of marijuana. The felony strangulation charge was withdrawn.

President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman sentenced him to six months to two years in state prison and two years concurrent probation.

The charges stem from an incident in Lawrence Township on July 16 at 3:07 a.m. when the victim woke up to find Kephart strangling her.

Prior to sentencing, the victim addressed the court saying that she “really thought I was not going to make it out of that room that night” because she felt he was going to kill her.

Since the assault, she has to go to physical therapy twice a week and has problems using her thumb that was fractured, to write.

She noted that the incident has impacted both of her daughters who are still scared and attend counseling. She also had to leave her job.

First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo noted that Kephart had served time in state prison previously for an assault in Centre County.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, police were called to Kephart’s residence for a domestic incident in progress. The call came from one of the children in the home.

After police arrived, they separated the couple. The victim had several wounds consisting of dark contusions located near both eyes and several scratches on various places on her face and neck.

She told officers that she was sleeping when she woke up with Kephart on top of her, strangling her. He had both his hands around her neck, squeezing to the point that she could not breathe.

She attempted to defend herself by striking and scratching him. He eventually loosened the grip on her neck but then he punched her with a closed fist four times in the face.

After she received treatment for her injuries, she advised the officers that she suffered a sprained shoulder, fractured thumb and several contusions and lacerations.

In his interview with police at the scene, Kephart said what happened was none of their business and he would not be discussing it.

An officer noticed a strong odor of marijuana in the residence and they found a small bag of a leafy, green substance in plain view on a table. The victim said she thought Kephart was smoking marijuana prior to the assault.

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