CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man accused of felony strangulation waived the charges in his case to court at his preliminary hearing Wednesday at the Clearfield County Jail.
Christopher L. Oswalt, 30, has been charged by Officer Kevin T. Orndorff of the Clearfield Borough police with strangulation, F2; simple assault, M2; disorderly conduct, M3; and harassment, S.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, at approximately 5:35 p.m. April 17, officers responded to a reported physical domestic disturbance at a SW Fourth Avenue residence.
The dispatcher told police Oswalt and another male were involved in a physical altercation. Oswalt was outside kicking the victim’s Jeep.
When police arrived, Orndorff made contact with Oswalt in the driveway. Another officer made contact with the victim inside the residence.
Oswalt stated he was sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette when the male came out yelling and swearing at him. When the male “got into his face,” Oswalt admitted to shoving him and causing him to fall.
Oswalt then pointed to a dent on the victim’s Jeep, telling police, “I had to do that, so I didn’t hit his face.”
Orndorff went inside the residence to speak with the victim. He stated Oswalt had called him and asked for his Jeep keys. When Oswalt began to yell, he hung up the phone.
When the victim went upstairs to confront Oswalt about what was wrong, Oswalt began yelling and swearing at him. He turned away from Oswalt then, he told police.
The victim alleged that Oswalt shoved him from behind and stood over him with his hands around his neck. He stated that while Oswalt was choking him, he commented, “I’ll end you if you don’t stop your [expletive].”
After that, he stated Oswalt let him go and stood up, and he asked what was wrong with him. Oswalt allegedly pushed him to the ground again and put him in a choke hold, threatening to “end” him if he didn’t shut up.
Orndorff observed marks around the victim’s neck, which were consistent with being choked. Another officer told Orndorff he’d spoken with a witness to the altercation, and he corroborated the victim’s story.
Police photographed the markings on the victim’s neck and the damage to his Jeep. Oswalt and the victim are related and reside in the same residence, according to the affidavit.
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.