Clearfield Man Accused of Felony Strangulation Under New PA Law

John Lewis Irwin (Provided photo)

CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man is facing a felony charge under Pennsylvania’s new strangulation law, which stems from an alleged domestic assault that occurred earlier this month.

John L. Irwin, 33, has been charged by Officer Daniel W. Podliski of the Clearfield Borough police with strangulation, F1; simple assault, M2; recklessly endangering another person, M2; and harassment, S.

Irwin’s bail has been set at $50,000 monetary. His preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9:45 a.m. March 29 during centralized court at the Clearfield County Jail.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, on March 13 Podliski responded to the Punxsutawney Hospital after a woman patient had reported being assaulted in a domestic dispute.

The victim told police she was outside of Irwin’s residence around 9 a.m. on Reed Street in Clearfield. She and Irwin engaged in an argument, which escalated into a physical assault.

Irwin allegedly choked her with his left hand before grabbing her again by her throat with his other hand. The second time, he picked her up off the ground.

Her toes weren’t any longer touching the ground, and she blacked out for a couple of minutes, she told police.

Irwin then allegedly punched and kicked the victim in her stomach. After that, she contacted a family member who transported her to the Punxsutawney Hospital.

In photographs taken by a registered nurse at the hospital, police observed the victim with marks on her throat, arms and abdomen and a bruise on her chin.

Irwin was convicted Oct. 31, 2009 of simple assault and unlawful restraint that was also the result of domestic violence. In the prior case, he held the victim down and choked them several times during the incident, the affidavit stated.

Last year Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill into Pennsylvania law to make strangulation a free-standing criminal offense.

According to published reports, the bill has made it a crime to apply pressure to the throat or neck of a victim, or to otherwise block the nose and mouth of a victim. The offense is considered a misdemeanor unless any aggravating factors apply.

The reports stated that strangulation is considered a felony if a victim is a family/household member; if the defendant is subject to a protection from abuse order involving the victim; if the defendant has a previous strangulation conviction; or if multiple other factors apply.


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