Oak Harbor man charged with assault, accused of smothering girlfriend
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
July 3, 2008 · Updated 10:43 AM
An 18-year-old Oak Harbor man accused of smothering his girlfriend is a facing a felony charge.
Prosecutors charged Fritz Ratcliffe in Island County Superior Court with assault in the third degree, domestic violence.
Deputy Daniel Waggoner with the Island County Sheriffs Office responded to a report of domestic violence at an Oak Harbor Road home in the morning of May 31. He found a 19-year-old woman crying on the porch.
The alleged victim explained that she and Ratcliffe got into a fight because he had hogged the bed the night before. The woman said Ratcliffe hit her on the arm and head.
The woman claimed that Ratcliffe, a 226-pound man, then laid on top of her face and smothered her, the report states. She said she couldnt breathe for about ten seconds.
The altercation continued in the kitchen. The woman said she tried defending herself with a broom stick, but Ratcliffe wrestled her to the floor and strangled her, Waggoner wrote.
Waggoners report states that Ratcliffe admitted to hitting the woman five or six times, but he described the violence as mutual. He didnt admit to smothering or strangling her.
In court June 16, Judge Vickie Churchill authorized a domestic violence no-contact order barring Ratcliffe from coming within 100 yards of the womans home, school or workplace.
If convicted of the charge, Ratcliffe would face from three to nine months in jail under the standard sentencing range.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.