Two women choked, Oak Harbor man goes to prison
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
May 27, 2011 · Updated 2:16 PM
A 29-year-old Oak Harbor man was sent to prison this week after pleading guilty in two separate cases in which he choked women.
Michael Chappelle, a former member of the Navy, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court May 23 to two counts of second-degree assault and two counts of assault in the fourth degree. All the charges are domestic-violence related.
Under the plea bargain, both the prosecution and defense recommended that Chappelle receive an exceptional sentence of a year and 10 months in prison. Judge Alan Hancock agreed, saying that Chappelle’s actions were atrocious and warranted an exceptional sentence.
Chappelle’s ex-girlfriend, a victim in the case, wrote a victim impact statement describing Chappelle as a “sick” individual with severe drinking, anger and control issues.
“I was afraid of what he might do to me or even my family,” she wrote. “The mental abuse broke my soul down so much I hardly recognized myself. The bruises will heal, but the emotions might take longer.”
On the other hand, four people — including Chappelle’s former supervisor in the Navy — wrote letters describing him as a man of good character. His ex-wife wrote that he was never physically abusive in eight years of marriage and suggested the reports of him assaulting women were a misunderstanding.
“I would never believe he was capable of laying a hand on a woman for any reason,” she wrote.
Chappelle was first arrested last November for assaulting his girlfriend after drinking. He threw her to the ground and choked her. Later, he threw her around a room, took her keys and wouldn’t let her leave and threatened to kill her, the police report states.
Chappelle was charged with second-degree assault, harassment, unlawful imprisonment and fourth-degree assault.
A few months later, Chappelle was accused of assaulting a different girlfriend in a very similar manner. The woman claimed Chappelle grabbed her by the hair and threw her on the couch, strangled her when she tried to scream, punched her numerous times in the face, then hit and kicked her as she curled into a fetal position, the police report states.
Chappelle was charged with exactly the same charges in the second case. The judge revoked his pre-trial release and ordered him held in jail.
The unlawful imprisonment and harassment charges against Chappelle were dismissed under the terms of the plea arrangement, but he pleaded guilty to the second-degree assault charges, which were the most serious.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.