Kephart Waives Hearing for Allegedly Strangling Girlfriend During Domestic Assault

CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man has been accused of strangling his girlfriend during a domestic assault.

Nicholas Joel Kephart, 36, has been charged by Officer Zachary Cowan of the Lawrence Township police with strangulation, F2; simple assault, M2; recklessly endangering another person, M2; possession of marijuana, M; disorderly conduct, M3; and harassment, S. Bail has been set at $50,000.

Kephart waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday during centralized court at the Clearfield County Jail.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, at 3:07 a.m. July 16, Cowan and Officer Levi Olson were dispatched to a report about a physical domestic in progress at an apartment on Valley View Drive.

While police were en route to the scene, it was learned that the 911 call was placed by one of the children inside the home. The child was locked inside a room and the domestic was ongoing.

Upon arrival, officers separated Kephart from the victim. Cowan spoke with the victim and it became apparent she’d suffered several wounds, including swollen, dark contusions near both eyes.

She also had several scratches and marks on various areas of her face and neck. All appeared to have been caused in an aggressive manner, Cowan said. He asked the victim what had happened being aware of past domestic incidents at the apartment.

She didn’t know what had happened to cause the domestic. She said she was asleep when all of a sudden she was woken up by her boyfriend, Kephart, who was on top of her, “strangling her.”

Kephart allegedly had both of his hands grasped around her neck and squeezed to the point that she couldn’t breathe. She attempted to defend herself and to strike and scratch Kephart.

After scratching him several times, she said that Kephart finally released his grip from her neck. Then, he allegedly began punching her with a closed fist about four times in the face. She showed Cowan her injuries, which were consistent with her story.

Olson, along with two Clearfield Borough police officers, was inside the residence with Kephart. Cowen went inside and an officer came out to be with the victim.

Upon making entry, Cowan detected a strong odor of marijuana present in the main living room. He also observed that Kephart was much larger than the victim, and he was covered in sweat.

When Cowan asked Kephart what had happened, he replied that it wasn’t any of his business and he wouldn’t be discussing it with him. He repeatedly told the officers he wanted them to leave his residence and to leave him alone.

Police told Kephart that the victim had several visible marks on her body, which appeared to be caused by aggression. He was also told he had several scratches to his neck and chest that appeared to be defensive in nature.

Cowan told Kephart that he was trying to get his side of the story, but he still refused to provide a statement. He said the officers “are going to do what they have to do and that it doesn’t matter.”

Cowan believed Kephart was under the influence of a controlled substance based upon his demeanor and glassy eyes. He subsequently handcuffed Kephart and placed him under arrest for domestic violence.

While handcuffing him, a bag containing a small amount of suspected marijuana was located in plain view on the kitchen table near where Kephart had been standing, according to the affidavit.

Police asked the victim about the marijuana, and she said it didn’t belong to her. She said she was aware Kephart smokes and thought he had been prior to the incident.

After Kephart was placed in the patrol unit, Cowan spoke with the victim again. She continued to say that she didn’t know what went wrong, why her boyfriend would do this to her and that she’d never fought for her life so hard.

Later that day, Cowan contacted the victim upon her request. She said she’d gone to the hospital around 5 a.m., and was diagnosed with a sprained shoulder, fractured thumb, contusions and lacerations.

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