CLEARFIELD – A man charged with felony strangulation pleaded guilty to lesser charges Thursday.
Dennis Scott Fenton, 41, of Clearfield was also originally charged by Lawrence Township police with misdemeanor terroristic threats, simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct in relation to an incident on Oct. 3, 2021.
Fenton was scheduled to go to trial before Senior Judge William J. Martin of Indiana County on these charges on Oct. 20, but he signed a plea agreement on Oct. 13.
Prior to sentencing Thursday, the victim stated that she did want to have contact with him. She said she heard from others he had “turned his life around” and is doing well with his business.
Martin sentenced Fenton to serve 10 days to six months (time-served) in the county jail with one year probation for terroristic threats and simple assault. Because this was a domestic assault, he must turn over his firearms to authorities.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, police were called to the Lawrence Township residence after a report of a domestic disturbance involving a pistol.
When police arrived on the scene, Fenton had already fled in his pickup truck. An officer noted in his report that the victim had redness on her neck and a welt near her esophagus.
She explained he was at a bowling alley, bowling when they started exchanging messages over a social media app. They began arguing about him having contact with an ex-girlfriend and about her having communications with men.
“In the messages, he started asking if he needed to bring his gun, that he kept in the center console of his vehicle, into the house, and that she needed to choose which one of them would die,” it says in the criminal complaint.
An officer reviewed the messages, which appeared to be a simple argument that Fenton reportedly attempted to perpetuate.
In her last message, she told him that she “couldn’t win” so she was going to try to get her child to sleep.
After this, police say he sent 19 messages telling her to get off the phone to care of the child and that he was going to smash the phone.
“You want to kill me. I will bring it in for you,” one of the messages reportedly read.
He then accused her of talking to someone else on another media site, which she denied.
“This is it the last night for one of us to get through it,” he messaged her, continuing by asking “so tell me who it is,” according to police.
“I’m being serious about this, tell me who’s going to make it through the night,” he wrote.
He entered the home and reportedly continued threatening her, saying one of them “wasn’t leaving the house alive.” She responded that she wasn’t making that decision.
Police say this is when he put his hands around her neck and squeezed. She reportedly yelled at him to stop until she was unable to do so due to her restricted air flow. After a few seconds of this, he left the house.
She believed he was going to get his gun out of his truck so she called police, she said.
While she was talking to a dispatcher at 911, he returned saying “really, you called the cops on me?” before leaving the home again and driving away.
Officers then began to search for him. The victim stated that he may have gone to the home of the female they had been arguing about, in DuBois.
Fenton was eventually located on the Rockton Mountain Highway where his vehicle was stopped and he was taken into custody. He told officers his gun was actually under a bed in his home.
A loaded pistol in a holster was found under the bed and two others were found in a case in a night stand, which were all seized, according to the report.
In his interview with police, Fenton claimed he did not threaten her but was only asking which one of them was going to leave the residence. He also stated that the victim had hurt herself previously.
As they spoke, Fenton told the officers that she had assaulted him and wanted her arrested. He next tried to get police to arrest her for alleged drug paraphernalia and marijuana he said were in her car, according to the criminal complaint.
Because he was “talking in circles” and going over the same accusations against the victim and minimizing her report, the interview was terminated.