Judge Refuses to Reduce Felony Domestic Violence Charges; Defendant Allegedly Choked, Punched Ex-Girlfriend

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By Sally Kim

WOODLAND — Judge Timothy Fall, here in Yolo County Superior Court on Monday, refused to reduce four felony domestic violence charges to misdemeanors in defendant Chris Schlinder’s preliminary hearing after hearing from three West Sacramento police officer witnesses.

The prosecution’s facts of the case noted that, on Oct. 7, Schlinder’s ex-girlfriend came to his residence to drop off their three-month old child. When she arrived, there was another female at the residence, which caused her to get upset because she felt disrespected.

She started yelling and cursing, the officers said, expressing her disapproval, and then the argument escalated after Schlinder told her, “I’ve had enough.” At this point, the alleged victim turned around to leave when Schlinder came up behind her, grabbing her with both arms and starting to choke her.

He allegedly proceeded to punch her several times in the back of the head while continuing to choke her, calling her expletive names and stating he would kill her.

Eventually, she was able to make it to the front door of the residence but was again prevented from leaving by the defendant. After 20 minutes of convincing, she then said she would call the police if he did not let her go.

Schlinder proceeded to grab her phone and step in front of her—the victim then spent another 20 minutes convincing him she would not call the police. She was finally able to leave then.

Officer David Asaro was called by Deputy District Attorney Caryn Warren as the first witness; he was the officer who arrived at the parking lot of the police station where the victim had called 911.

Officer Asaro stated that the victim had sustained a “large, raised contusion on the back of her head… an abrasion on her lip, and some redness on her neck,” which he confirmed is consistent with being choked.

During Deputy Public Defender James Bradford’s cross-examination, Officer Asaro clarified the relationship between the victim and the defendant, that the two have been dating on and off and were no longer in a relationship at the time of the incident.

Officer Asaro never went back to the trailer where the incident occurred to gather evidence nor did he take a statement from Schlinder that night.

Bradford showed photos of the victim’s injuries and asked Officer Asaro to detail each one. Notably, she had stated to have been punched five to six times on the side and back of her head but there was no apparent indication in the photos of such an attack on her face.

The victim was encouraged to go to the hospital by both EMTs and Officer Asaro because of the choking, but refused. There were red marks on her neck, but no bruising, swelling, abrasions, or cuts, said the officer.

Warren then stated how it is common for choke victims to get swelling later, despite no visible bruising, and for the condition to become life threatening.

Warren called Detective William Silvermaster, who was the detective who conducted the follow-up investigation and contacted the victim following the incident.

During Silvermaster’s follow-up, the victim had a slightly different recollection of the incident. She told Detective Silvermaster that she had urinated on herself while being choked and that she did pass out for a second.

The victim also added that when she was able to leave through the front door, Schlinder got into the rear of her vehicle, and for approximately 10 minutes, apologized for what he did.

Detective Silvermaster then detained Schlinder through a warrant and his story was completely different as well. Schlinder stated that at the time they were arguing over the paternity of the child—he alleged the victim had told another male he was the father.

He stated that when his ex-girlfriend arrived at his trailer that night, the woman she claimed to have seen was not there. Instead, he was lying in his bedroom when they started to argue and the victim punched him in his right arm six to seven times.

She then, according to the defendant, backed up, continued talking and then hit him in the head with a wire trash can three to four times. Bradford provided further evidence showing a photo of a bruise on his right arm.

In Warren’s cross-examination, she emphasized how the victim’s stories were not consistent and further questioned Detective Silvermaster.

Detective Silvermaster told Warren of two separate incidents that occurred of the victim coming over, getting upset, and punching Schlinder.

In one incident, she took a knife up her arm and put it up to her neck saying she would kill herself. In the other and most recent, the same woman the victim claimed to see in question was at his residence and she attacked Schlinder again.

Warren wrapped up her questioning after Silvermaster stated that Schlinder never called the police following these incidents, nor did he attempt to put a 51/50 (from the section of the Welfare and Institutions Code, regarding an involuntary psychiatric hold) or go to the hospital.

The third and last witness was then brought up by Deputy Public Defender Bradford, Officer Matthew Montez.

Bradford questioned Officer Montez in regard to another domestic violence incident where Schlinder was the victim at the time. He described Schlinder’s ex-girlfriend showing up to his place of work and attacking him with a crowbar and metal tape measures.

He said this happened because Schlinder had posted on Facebook describing the new-born daughter as a “maybe baby.”

They got into an argument over this post when his ex-girlfriend struck his arm with a crowbar and went in his vehicle and grabbed a metal tape measure and threw it at his head.

There were observed injuries, an abrasion on the top of his head and a small circular injury on his right forearm. Schlinder was on the fence of pressing charges against his ex-girlfriend but he decided not to because he did not want to ruin her life. She just had a baby and it was the first time she had physically shown violence to him.

DDA Warren detailed Schlinder’s history of domestic violence, including a misdemeanor conviction, and arrests for domestic violence in 2018 and again in 2020. She stated that the last time he was arrested, in June of 2020, the ex-girlfriend was the victim and that he accused her of scratching him but the officer did not see any indication of that.

After hearing all three witnesses, Judge Fall said he was curious whether there was evidence of violence or menace as required by Count 3 of the felony charges.

DDA Warren emphasized that when the victim turned to leave and Schlinder started choking her and did not allow her to leave was a clear sign of violence and menace.

PD Bradford questioned the credibility of the victim and argued that Schlinder does not have a felony history past post-Prop. 47, which reduced penalties for some crimes. He asked the court to reduce the felony charges to a misdemeanor.

Judge Fall said it was hard to assess the credibility of both parties involved because he had not spoken to either. He added that there is evidence in the record that the EMT urged the victim to go to the hospital because choking can be life-threatening.

Judge Fall said he could not reduce Count 3 to a misdemeanor and denied the defense’s motion. The arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 12, at 9 a.m.

Sally Kim is a senior at UCLA, majoring in Sociology. She is from the East Bay Area.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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