Man sent to prison for choking girlfriend |

Man sent to prison for choking girlfriend

by Sheila Gardner

A 34-year-old Gardnerville Ranchos man with two prior felony convictions was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for choking his pregnant girlfriend.

District Judge Michael Gibbons told James Angelo Rickett he must serve a minimum of 18 months before he is eligible for parole.

He pleaded guilty in December to battery that constitutes domestic violence by strangulation.

Rickett’s attorney, Kris Brown, corrected an earlier statement that her client had choked the victim until she lost consciousness.

“She (the victim) said it was to the point where she almost blacked out,” Brown said.

The victim is expecting the couple’s child in April.

The woman did not appear at the sentencing, but Rickett indicated she planned to stand by him throughout his imprisonment.

Rickett was arrested in November after deputies were called to a duplex in the 1300 block of Kimmerling Road. She accused him of choking her twice and beating her dog.

Rickett said he was so intoxicated he couldn’t remember what happened, but he believed she was telling the truth. He said he knew she was pregnant.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the District Attorney’s office did not seek enhancement under the habitual criminal statute. According to court records, Rickett has served nine years in prison for two prior felonies.

“I know I’ve done a lot of bad things in my past,” he said. “I am really sorry for what happened. I do need help.”

He claimed prior to the incident, the couple had been discussing both of them attending 12-step programs and the possibility of his returning to a treatment program which had been successful in the past.

“She talked me out of it. She wanted me to stay,” he said.

Rickett said he had been sober for 10 years prior to last year.

“She knows as well as I know it’s not who I am. I worry about her being out there. It’s just her and her 12-year-old son. She’ll be having our son pretty soon,” he said.

Gibbons told Rickett he shouldn’t be near the victim or their child if he’s been drinking.

Rickett said he planned to move back in with her after he gets out of prison. He said she was in counseling.

“I want to help out as much as I can with the baby,” he said.

Gibbons said Rickett shouldn’t assume he will be welcome.

“She may have moved on,” the judge said. “Whether you get out in 18 months depends on how you behave in prison.”

He gave Rickett credit for 78 days in custody.