JEFFERSON — A 44-year-old man facing domestic abuse, victim intimidation and battery charges for the second time appeared in Jefferson County Circuit Court on Friday.
In September 2018, a jury found Kevin L. Washington guilty of two counts of domestic abuse by strangulation or suffocation, one count of domestic abuse by false imprisonment, one count of domestic abuse by victim intimidation, two counts of felony bail jumping and one count of domestic battery.
The jury found Washington not guilty of first-degree attempted homicide.
The case is being retried after Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Bennett Brantmeier vacated the sentence on June 25, 2019, due to ineffective counsel.
Brantmeier determined Washington’s original attorney was ineffective at what’s called a Machner hearing. The judge found that the attorney should have called a witness that would have given Washington an alibi.
“Trial counsel could not really articulate any strategy that would explain the failure to call this alibi witness,” Brantmeier said in the June hearing, according to court records.
In court Friday, Brantmeier, District Attorney Susan Happ and defense attorney John Chavez worked out procedural matters for the upcoming trial.
Chavez, who only has represented Washington since Oct. 1, said he hasn’t had enough time to get up to speed on the ins and outs of the case.
“Having just received discovery — which is quite voluminous,” Chavez said. “I’m still seeking notes from prior counsel, I just hired a new investigator, I’m at the beginning of wading through.”
With Chavez recently joining the case and judicial reassignment coming at the beginning of 2020, the timing of the case became an issue.
“Getting in by the end of the year would be next to impossible,” Chavez said.
But Happ said she wanted to keep the case moving along, noting Washington had asserted his right to a speedy trial — which Chavez then withdrew.
Brantmeier said that in the interest of fairness and expeditiousness, it’s best to move as fast as possible.
“I tend to agree that the matter is aged and has been reopened,” Brantmeier said. “So I’d agree with the District Attorney on setting a final status conference. I appreciate your position, but I have to balance that with the state’s position.”
The case began more than two years ago a little after 5 a.m. on July 8, 2017, when Watertown Police Officer Mike Hoyt responded to Watertown Regional Medical Center to speak with Washington’s ex-girlfriend, according to the criminal complaint.
The woman had a bruised and swollen face and there were “numerous” red scratch marks on her upper chest and around her neck, the complaint states. She said that Hoyt Washington choked her and said he was going to kill her.
The previous night, the woman had arrived at Washington’s house while he was at work to pick up some of her things around 9 p.m., according to the complaint. She said a friend dropped her off and was supposed to pick her up a little later.
While the woman was in the house, Washington arrived home unexpectedly around 10 p.m., the complaint states. The woman tried to leave, but, according to the complaint, Washington blocked the door and took her phone.
For the next two hours, Washington tried to convince the woman to get back together with him, according to the complaint.
But at 12:09 a.m., the woman’s phone rang and Washington saw a man’s photo appear, the complaint states. The woman said this is when Washington “lost his s--t.”
He then grabbed her by the hair and threw her onto the bed and started choking her, according to the complaint. He also said he was going to kill her and then himself, the complaint states.
Washington reportedly strangled the woman about 20 times over the next three hours using a combination of one and two hands — even pushing a pillow over her face three times. The complaint states the woman rolled off the bed once and Washington dragged her back up by the hair.
During this three-hour period, Washington asked the woman for the passcode to her phone, and when she wouldn’t give it to him, he attacked again, the complaint states. This time, in addition to strangulation, he reportedly hit the woman with a closed fist and an open hand.
After nearly blacking out, the woman said, she relented and gave him the passcode to save her life.
The woman also said Washington forced an unidentified pill into her mouth and made her swallow it. Doctors found she had cocaine in her system.
Near the end of the incident, the woman told police Washington was squeezing her throat so hard she thought he was going to crush her trachea. He also told her that if she reported the incident to the police, he would come after her family, the complaint states.
Eventually, at about 3:30 a.m., Washington made the woman lie down and hold him, which the complaint states she did to avoid more abuse. After Washington fell asleep, the woman waited 30 minutes before sneaking out of the house.
She ran to a nearby Kwik Trip where a friend was working, according to the complaint. The friend took her to the hospital.
Washington is scheduled to appear in court for a final status conference Jan. 14, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. A jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 21.