Fairbanks man sentenced for choking wife

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Fairbanks man has been sentenced to six years in prison for twice choking his wife until she passed out.

Manus D. McKeehan, 33, was sentenced Monday on charges of second-degree assault, criminal trespassing and violating a restraining order.

McKeehan pleaded no contest to those charges in August in an agreement that dismissed charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and first-degree burglary.

In his sentencing comments, Superior Court Judge Richard Savell said he agreed with an assessment by Assistant District Attorney Corrine Vorenkamp that enough evidence existed in the case to constitute an attempted-murder charge.

''There's a significant record to support that he intended to kill his wife,'' said Savell, who also sentenced McKeehan to six years of probation following his release.

Fairbanks police arrested McKeehan in May after his estranged wife had gone to a neighbor's house on Bluebell Street yelling ''help me'' and ''he is trying to kill me,'' according to a criminal complaint. The woman, who was undergoing a divorce with McKeehan, told police McKeehan came to her house unexpectedly and confronted her.

After trying to drag her into the bathroom, McKeehan sat on the woman's chest until she blacked out, according to the complaint. Once she regained consciousness, McKeehan stuck his knee on her chest and started choking her with his hands until she passed out again, the complaint states.

''This only ended without death because (the victim) fought repeatedly and never lost her head,'' Vorenkamp said Monday.

McKeehan's public defender, Abigail Sheldon, argued against Vorenkamp's assertions that McKeehan planned the assault. McKeehan's purpose during the incident was only to continue talking with the woman, according to Sheldon. She said McKeehan suffered injuries similar to the woman's.

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