A Merced County judge has decided that ample evidence exists to try a legless man for allegedly beating his wife.
Commissioner Ralph Cook reached that conclusion Thursday during a preliminary hearing in the case of 41-year-old Gregory Williams.
Williams, a Merced resident, made national headlines last year after a Sept. 11 incident when a Merced police officer stunned him with a Taser. Williams is wheelchair-bound and an amputee below both knees. Williams also claims officers left him handcuffed on the pavement, with his pants down, exposing his private parts to onlookers.
Before making his decision, Cook heard testimony from the sister of 28-year-old Demetrice Shaunt'e Pfifer, the alleged victim in the case. Cook also heard testimony from Merced Police Detective Chris Russell.
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Williams' attorney, Hayden Smith, said his client denies the charges, maintaining it was he who was attacked by Pfifer. Smith pointed out Williams' wife already has a documented history of allegedly abusing her husband. "If she can move freely and he's in a wheelchair, which is more likely to be true? She attacks him or he attacks her? It's real simple," Smith said.
Deputy District Attorney Monique Neese said she couldn't comment on specific details about the case, since it could go to trial. She has previously said even though Williams is in a wheelchair, it doesn't mean he's unable to hurt someone.
Prosecutors believe the domestic violence incident happened Sept. 6, five days before the Taser incident with Merced police. Police discovered evidence of the alleged abuse while they were conducting the internal investigation into the Sept. 11 Taser incident.
The evidence against Williams includes statements from his wife and her family, as well as photographs of injuries. Williams allegedly hit his wife with a broomstick during an argument, jumped on her and attempted to strangle her, according to prosecutors.
Pfifer wasn't present at Thursday's hearing. She's wanted on an outstanding $10,000 misdemeanor domestic violence warrant, stemming from a 2004 incident when she allegedly assaulted Williams.
Williams is facing three felony counts: corporal injury to a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.
Cook reduced Williams' bail from $110,000 to $50,000. Williams' next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25. He remains at the Merced County Jail.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org