Man who assaulted, threatened to kill pregnant girlfriend enters plea

A Warren man charged with assaulting his pregnant girlfriend pled guilty to lesser charges after the victim expressed an unwillingness to testify.

Michael J. Bryant was before Judge Gregory Hammond on Friday.

He was charged in January after a domestic incident in Conewango Township.

According to Conewango Township Police, Bryant accused the woman of infidelity, held her down on the couch and placed towels over her mouth and nose, suffocating her several times.

Police reported that the victim sustained “defensive injuries” to her hands and wrist and that she was “able to fight him off but he continued to strike her about the face and neck” and is alleged to have put his arm across her throat, causing her to have difficulty breathing.

According to the affidavit, “Bryant stated that he wanted to killer her” and the unborn child.

But District Attorney Rob Greene said during Friday’s proceeding that “this plea is solely the result of the victim’s request.”

Attorney Elizabeth Feronti, standing in for Chief Public Defender John Parroccini said that she plea would be to charges of terroristic threats and simple assault.

In exchange, the Commonwealth agreed to not prosecute charges including aggravated assault, strangulation and aggravated assault of unborn child.

Feronti said the Commonwealth was not opposed to a time served sentence and parole to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility “in the next few days.”

Greene said that he received a letter from the victim on May 25 indicating that she would not testify against Bryant and that she would like to see the charges dropped.

He said the Commonwealth would not agree to dropping all of the charges and that statements like this from domestic violence victims are common.

Greene said that the plea offer came through negotiations with Parroccini and the victim and is a “viable solution.”

A subsequent letter from the victim indicated that she would like to see Bryant go to rehab and thanked the Commonwealth for working with her.

“Not that we agree completely with the victim,” Greene said, “we are going to honor her wishes.”

During the sentencing phase of the proceeding, Feronti said that a bed in rehab would be available July 9.

“To me, he appears to be remorseful,” she said, indicating that he “wants to meet his daughter…. Her (the victim) goal is to have Mr. Bryant out to be a father to his daughter.”

She added she has made it clear to Bryant that probation violations would likely result in state prison time.

Greene said during sentencing comments that he “can’t say I’m not disappointed” that the victim didn’t pursue the case and added that his “record in jail is anything but good.”

But, he said, the sentence would grant the wishes of the victim and a lengthy period of probation would give the court wide discretion in the event of any violations in the future.

“I truly hope Michael Bryant succeeds,” Greene said.

Bryant offered “most sincere apologies” to the victim and the court and “most importantly, to my daughter. (This incident) crushed me for six months.”

He said he is “thankful for the opportunity to make right” for his daughter and “be a better person.”

Hammond made it clear to Bryant that there would be a “zero tolerance” policy for missing any meetings as part of his rehab or while on probation.

“I was reluctant as Mr. Greene is with this sentence,” he said. “But for her (the victim) mercy and apparent love for you.”

He said his hands were tied with the sentence as Greene’s were with the plea offer.

He described Bryant’s conduct as “deplorable” and said that there are a lot of drug addicts but “a small percentage of them beat the heck out of their paramour.”

He then sentenced Bryant on the terroristic threats charge to 169 days to two years less one day in the Warren County Jail with credit for 166 days time served. That makes him eligible for parole on Monday to be released to a rehab facility. Bryant was also sentenced to three years probation, $375 in fees, a $500 fine, 50 hours of community service and compliance with drug and alcohol treatment recommendations.

For simple assault, Hammond sentenced Bryant to two years of consecutive probation, a $300 fine, 40 hours of community service and an anger management evaluation and compliance with any recommendations.