WINCHESTER — A Frederick County man who beat and choked a woman, held her against her will, roughed up her children and stalked the family when they fled has received an eight-year sentence, with all time suspended expect for seven months served.
In a plea bargain on Tuesday in Frederick County Circuit Court, Evan John Bender, 27, pleaded no contest to abduction, strangulation and three counts of assault and battery of a family member. Two counts of assault and battery of a family member were dropped as part of the agreement. Upon release, Bender will be on three years of supervised probation and cannot contact the victim.
The sentence was for an incident on June 28 of last year at the home where Bender and the woman were living on May Apple Court in Cross Junction. The woman said Bender began screaming at night, preventing her and her two children from sleeping, so she filmed him with her phone, which he then tried to break.
The woman said Bender attacked her, punching her in the back, and “backhanded” her daughter. He later choked the woman and threw her children off when they came to her defense. She said he blocked her from leaving the house during the night, but she and the children fled in the morning after she bit and kicked Bender. Bender then followed in a Jeep and struck her five more times.
Marie E. Acosta, a county assistant commonwealth’s attorney, told Judge Alexander R. Iden that the woman escaped and contacted police, who said she had red marks on her neck. Acosta said the woman supported the plea bargain as a way of sparing her children, ages 10 and 12, from the ordeal of having to testify at a trial.
Acosta said after the hearing that state sentencing guidelines recommended a minimum of no jail time with probation and a maximum of six months. Acosta said she would’ve asked Iden to sentence above the guidelines if the case had gone to trial. She said Bender might not have agreed to the plea bargain if she asked for a sentence above guidelines as part of the agreement. Mark A. Vann, Bender’s attorney, wouldn’t comment after the sentencing.
Because the only physical evidence was the marks on the woman’s neck, Acosta said she discussed with the victim that there was also a risk of losing the case if it went to trial.
Acosta said the woman preferred to have the guaranteed suspended sentence. “So if he doesn’t keep his nose clean, we know he’ll be facing a significant amount of active incarceration.”