By GARY POPP
NEW ALBANY —
A New Albany man with a history of violent convictions was put behind bars this week after his wife claimed he beat and strangled her multiple times while she was three months pregnant with his child.
Michael R. Whitman, 36, Graybrook Lane, was arrested Wednesday and charged in a Floyd County court with three class D felonies: domestic battery, strangulation and intimidation. He was also charged with being a habitual offender, which can enhance his prison sentence, if found guilty. He is being held at the Floyd County jail under a $100,000 cash-only bond.
Whitman’s wife went to the New Albany Police Dept. Aug. 29 and filed a battery report for an incident that had taken place earlier in the day.
The woman reported to an officer that she and Whitman were in the area of West Street in New Albany when Whitman had found out that she had spoken with a police investigator about a burglary.
“[The woman] reported Michael [Whitman] started beating and choking her and dragged her into a wooded area off of West Street,” the officer reported.
Police later determined the wooded area is a plot of land adjacent to Ivy Court, which intersects West Street, and is flanked to the southwest by Interstate 64.
The woman told police that Whitman hit her all over her body and strangled her to unconsciousness several times, once causing her to pass out for 10 minutes.
Police reported the woman had visible signs of injury consistent with her accusations.
“Michael [Whitman] had choked her all the way out three times, had poked her in the eyes several times, and even stated, ‘I will kill this [expletive] and put her in a hole in the woods,’” according to the woman’s comments in the police report.
The woman said, at the time, the assault had left whelps on her head and caused her to lose the ability to hear out of one ear and have trouble hearing out of the other.
During an interview the following day, the woman was questioned about the assault by the same investigator and said that Whitman had become enraged about his wife speaking to police about a burglary, according to her statements.
She reported that during the assault Whitman asked her what she had told the investigator about the burglary. It is unknown whether Whitman has been charged in any burglary.
The woman said that she had not said anything about a burglary, and if she had it was none of his business. The woman said Whitman responded by saying, “You need to tell me before I [expletive] kill you ... you know me better than that. I will.”
Before the alleged assault in the wooded area came to an end, the woman said Whitman told her that he was going back to prison for the burglary, so he might as well kill her and go back for life.
The next day, Aug. 31, the investigator questioned Whitman about the incident, where he told police the woman was beaten up when she got to him.
Whitman told the investigator he had asked his wife how she became injured, and she said, “I don’t know.”
He said he tried to talk to her about what she had reported to police about a burglary, but she didn’t want to tell him.
“Whitman stated they had a heated conversation, but there was nothing physical,” according to the report.
More than six weeks after Whitman and his wife were initially interviewed by the investigator, he was arrested for his actions during the alleged assault.
He had been in the Floyd County Jail, however, under a $5,000 cash-only bond since Sept. 11 for driving on a suspended license.
The Floyd County Prosecutor’s office issued a habitual offender charge against Whitman in his most recent battery arrest.
A habitual offender charge is applicable only to a person with a set number of previous and unrelated prior convictions.
According to the charging document, in November 2011, Whitman was convicted of class D felony theft and class C felony intimidation. In March 2010, he was convicted of battery, a class D felony. In 1997, he was convicted of class B felony burglary.
During his hearing Wednesday, Floyd County Circuit Court Judge Terrence Cody entered a not guilty plea on Whitman’s behalf.
Cody also placed Whitman on a 15-day hold, a term where he is subject to no bond and once fulfilled the $100,000 full-cash bond is continued.
Whitman is scheduled for a pretrial conference Oct. 22.