Westport man pleads guilty to strangling wife

King is the first person prosecuted in Essex County under new law

— Hours before jury selection was scheduled to begin, a Westport man changed his plea to guilty first-degree strangulation on Dec. 10.

John J. King, 48, will receive up to 10 years of prison in connection with Sept. 27, 2011 assault of his partner.

King was charged in 2011 for punching his wife in the face during an argument and then strangling her until she was rendered unconscious at their home. District Attorney Kristie Sprague said the victim could not say how long she was unconscious before she was able to call 911. The victim was transported by ambulance and treated at the Elizabethtown Community Hospital.

King with assistance of his counsel, Joseph Brennan of Glens Falls, admitted to his conduct and entered a plea of guilty to first-degree strangulation. According to the plea agreement King will be sentenced to 10 year prison sentence with 5 years of post-release supervision, an order of protection for the victim, mandatory surcharges and fees, as well as a waiver of his appeal rights. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21, at 2 p.m.

King had initially submitted a plea of not guilty and Sprague said she was unsure why he had a sudden change of heart.

“It can be feel like a lot of pressure to start a trial,” Sprague said.

King initially faced multiple charges including: second-degree attempted murder, first-degree strangulation, second-degree strangulation, third-degree assault and second-degree unlawful imprisonment.

King would have faced up to 25 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

Sprague said this was the first case of strangulation to come before Essex County Court since the legislation passed in 2010.

Sprague said the new law, Article 121, Strangulation and related offenses, will help law enforcement to match elements to identify the crime more thoroughly.

“Before we’d have to look at assault or attempted murder,” Sprague said. “Defendants would get a slap on the wrist after almost killing someone because of the way the crime was classified.”

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