Man pleads guilty in strangulation, shovel assault case

By Joe Beck

WOODSTOCK — An Edinburg man was sentenced to one month in jail Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Çourt after he pleaded guilty to causing injury by strangulation in a case involving his girlfriend at the time of the offense.

Matthew Allen Bowman, 35, of 2900 S. Ox Road, was accused of injuring his girlfriend, Felicia Wetzel, during a struggle on June 30 during which she fled through a field toward her uncle’s house, according to court documents.
Bowman’s full sentence includes another one year and 11 months suspended prison sentence and two years supervised probation.

A criminal complaint filed in juvenile and domestic relations court states that Shenandoah County sheriff’s deputy A.N Springer noticed “marks on Wetzel’s neck, chest, back and legs, which were consistent with her statement.”

Springer also noticed cuts on Wetzel’s left hand and left wrist “as well as marks all over her body,” according to the complaint.

Assistant commonwealth’s attorney Louis Campola said in an interview Wednesday that Bowman and Wetzel were both high on methamphetamine at the time of the incident. Campola said Bowman began attacking Wetzel after she emerged from the shower in their home. Court documents say he accused her of getting ready to leave and pushing her out of bed and onto the floor.

Authorities say Wetzel left the residence with Bowman following her onto the porch. Campola said she grabbed a shovel to defend herself, but Bowman seized it back from her.

“He hit her with the shovel,” Campola said. “Then she ran away, and he started to choke her.”

The criminal complaint states that Bowman grabbed her from behind and began choking her with the inside of his arm after she tried to flee into a field behind their residence.

“Wetzel stated she was unable to breathe and felt she was going to die,” the complaint states.

The complaint states that she escaped to a neighbor’s house after Bowman returned to their residence to get her belongings. Campola said Wetzel was naked from the waist up at the time she fled into the field.

Campola said the case was complicated by Wetzel’s inability to distinguish between injuries Bowman inflicted on her and those she suffered while running through the field while trying to escape.

“They were both smoking meth,” Campola said in explaining Bowman’s violent behavior. “Meth makes you do crazy things.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com