By Zachary Zolmer
Woodland – In a pretrial hearing over a case of domestic violence, the alleged victim’s testimony was deemed sufficient for the accused to answer multiple charges.
At approximately 11 p.m. on June 9, 2019, the alleged victim’s mother and friends dropped her off at her Woodland home after a trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. But when she tried the house’s sliding wooden gate, which was normally left open, she found it padlocked. After car honks from her mother and friends failed to stir Vincent Stringer, her fiancé, out of the house, the victim hopped the gate herself and went inside.
She proceeded into the bedroom, where Stringer was lying awake under the bed’s comforter. The victim yelled at him and asked him why he’d locked her out, but he stayed silent under the comforter, which agitated her, she said.
Standing by the dresser, she picked up his phone and noticed text messages from other people, including a girl he’d made plans with that night. The victim heard her phone ring in the other room and left to answer the call, which was her mom making sure she’d gotten into the house okay.
After hanging up, she reentered the bedroom to continue to question Stringer, but he still ignored her, she recalled. Angry, she pulled the comforter off of him, which made him upset. He told her to give it back, but she wouldn’t, and when he repeated himself and she still refused, he got up and grabbed her and pinned her against the wall, and began to choke her.
Leaning into her, Stringer squeezed her neck with both hands so that she couldn’t breathe for approximately 30 seconds, the victim testified. He then threw her face-down onto the bed and punched her 10 to 15 times on her back, shoulders, arms, and the back of her head. When she turned over he knelt over her and choked her again for 30-45 seconds. Referencing a knife in the kitchen, “he said, ‘I’m going to f**king kill you,’” she said.
She’d scratched and clawed for about 30 seconds when she successfully broke free from his grip. Out of the bedroom, she retrieved her phone, her purse, and her dog from its crate, but Stringer grabbed her wrist and forced her phone away because he wanted to see whom she’d been talking to, she said. He threw the phone first on the hardwood floor, then at the victim—hitting her on the arm—and finally out the front door, when she heard it hit the fence outside.
Stringer slammed the front door shut, then approached and kicked the victim in the stomach as she tried to re-collect her things. She fell backward and lay on the ground, and he kicked her legs eight to 12 times, the victim recalled. Once she was able to stand up, he stopped kicking and threw her bag at her, which she grabbed—along with her dog—and she drove herself to the hospital.
The attack followed a similar incident of domestic violence two weeks prior, after she’d attended a funeral service with her mother and brother, the victim reported. Stringer had punched her left arm and choked her on their bed because he didn’t trust her out without him and his friends. He threatened to kill her dog and said he wasn’t going to bother her ever again.
They’d been together approximately two-and-a-half years, separated in October 2018, then reconciled in April 2019, the victim said. Instances of domestic violence before their October separation were also characterized by punching, kicking, and choking, generally brought on by her catching him setting up dates, she explained. She’d always forgiven him, and never reported these incidents to friends or family members.
The victim then described a series of 10 exhibits—photos of her injuries taken either at the hospital on the night of June 9 or in her bathroom the next day. The photos showed bruises on her head, neck, arms, and legs—including one healing from the incident two weeks earlier—in addition to one of her shattered iPhone.
In cross-examination, the victim clarified that Stringer hadn’t used the word “cheat” in texts to her on June 9, but said he was locking her out because she could stay with whomever she was with the rest of the night. From their initial confrontation to her drive to the hospital, she confirmed the order of events she’d previously described.
She had separated from Stringer in Octpber after learning he’d cheated on her 30 days out from their wedding, she stated. She estimated 12 domestic violence incidents in all, one while camping, all without witnesses. She’d told friends that the greenish-blue bruise from the incident two weeks before June 9 resulted from an elliptical accident, and she’d worn a high-collared t-shirt to hide the choking bruises.
She said she’d tried to hit Stringer once before, at a Halloween party in 2018, when she accused him of cheating on her. She’d seen him kissing one of her bridesmaids—whom she’d met through him—though both Stringer and the bridesmaid denied this. This incident triggered their separation, which the victim resolved in April of this year because Stringer apologized and said he’d worked on his anger issues, the victim said.
His cheating accusations on June 9 were spurred by text messages from someone the victim had seen in the approximate five months between her and Stringer’s breakup and reconciliation—which messages she hadn’t returned, the victim testified. She clarified that she’d never cheated on Stringer.
In a brief redirect, the alleged victim explained that her attempt to hit Stringer at the Halloween party was a slap that missed. She reiterated that he said, “I’m going to kill you,” when he choked her on their bed on June 9.
Judge David W. Reed found sufficient evidence to call Stringer to answer charges of threatening to commit a crime, willfully inflicting corporal injury, and vandalism. The arraignment is set for August 12 at 9 a.m.