Oak Harbor man sentenced to prison for domestic abuse

An Oak Harbor man whose abuse of his wife escalated into a violent choking incident in July is now in prison.

Peter J. Dunphy, 29, appeared in Island County Superior Court Monday for sentencing. He pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, interfering with the reporting of domestic violence and felony harassment at his arraignment last month.

Judge Alan Hancock sentenced Dunphy to 14 months in prison, which was the maximum under the standard sentencing range. The judge also imposed a no-contact order that bars Dunphy from any contact with his wife and children for 10 years.

In addition, Dunphy must undergo evaluations for domestic violence and drug abuse after he gets out of prison and comply with any recommended treatment.

Hancock and Dunphy’s attorney noted that he took responsibility for his actions early on. It’s rare for a defendant to plead guilty at arraignment. Still, the judge found that the acceptance of responsibility didn’t warrant a shorter sentence.

Both Hancock and Deputy Prosecutor Michael Safstrom emphasized the fact that the assault took place in front of the couple’s children; such abuse is shown to have lasting and damaging effects on children, the prosecutor noted.

In the July 11 incident, Dunphy choked the victim until she couldn’t breath; she vomited and he forced her to clean up the mess. He then grabbed the children, who witnessed the event, and threatened to leave with them if she didn’t beg.

In her impact statement, the victim noted the abuse had a devastating effect on the children.

“My children live in fear and ask me every morning without fail if daddy is still in jail because they fear he will hurt us when he gets out,” the victim wrote in her statement.

Oak Harbor Police Officer Jennifer Gravel investigated the case and was later awarded the police department’s Distinguished Service Medal for her professionalism during the investigation.

Gravel realized that the woman was trapped in a classic cycle of domestic abuse and was able to earn her trust, according to interim Oak Harbor Police Administrator Terry Gallagher.

In his letter to the court, Dunphy blames his actions on drugs, particularly a synthetic form of marijuana called spice.

“The spice and Ambien turned me into such a monster that I could not get control ever,” he wrote.

In addition, Dunphy wrote that he knows he did wrong and now realizes the pain he caused her. He wrote that he doesn’t hold a grudge against her and still loves her.

“I don’t know if I have scared you away forever,” he wrote.