OCEAN CITY- A Pennsylvania man arrested last July after strangling his girlfriend while she was holding a child at a downtown Ocean City condo pleaded guilty this week to second-degree assault and was sentenced to five years, all but 18 months of which was then suspended.
Around 6:30 p.m. last July 24, Ocean City Police responded to a unit in the Suncoast Condominium for a reported assault. OCPD Communications advised the officers the victim had locked herself in a bathroom and the suspect had left the scene. The officer made contact with the female victim, who informed them the suspect, identified as Christopher Hilpl, 26, of Dublin, Pa., had left the unit and had likely gone to the beach.
An OCPD officer went to the condo balcony and observed two males on the beach nearby wearing camouflage shorts matching the description provided by the victim. The victim was brought to the balcony and pointed out Hilpl to the officers. An OCPD officer went to the beach and made contact with Hilpl, who appeared to be intoxicated and upset. According to police reports, Hilpl told the officers he “just got into a yelling match,” and “all I did was scream and leave.”
Meanwhile, another officer interviewed the female victim back at the condo unit and she told police Hilpl had strangled her. The victim told police she and Hilpl along with their child were staying in the condo and that Hilpl had been drinking all day. When Hilpl returned, the victim told police she accused him of cheating on her and that he became upset and began screaming. When the argument escalated to a physical confrontation, Hilpl allegedly placed his hands around the victim’s throat and began to strangle her.
According to police reports, the victim told police Hilpl strangled her to the point she began to lose her breath although she never lost consciousness. The officers observed signs of injury corroborating the story along with scratches on her neck and back. The victim also told police Hilpl had bitten her right middle finger during the confrontation.
When officers asked the victim where the child was during the violent altercation, she told police the child was in her arms while Hilpl strangled her. The child appeared to be in good health and unharmed, however. OCPD officers also found a broken iPhone on a chair on the balcony. The victim told police Hilpl had damaged the phone during the physical altercation.
The OCPD officer asked the victim a series of questions from the domestic violence lethality screen to which she answered yes. Among the questions were the following: Has he threatened to kill you? Do you think he might try to kill you? Does he have a gun or can he get one easily? Has he ever tried to choke you? Is he violently or constantly jealous or does he control most of your daily activities? Have you left him or separated after living together of being married? Does he follow or spy on you or leave threatening messages?
The victim told OCPD officers she feared Hilpl might send someone to come after her. She also told police Hilpl knew several people in prison. Based on all of the evidence and testimony, OCPD officers charged Hilpl with first-degree assault because he allegedly placed the victim in danger of serious physical injury or death. Hilpl was also charged with reckless endangerment because the altercation with the victim placed her and their one-year-old child in jeopardy of serious physical injury.
This week, Hilpl pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to five years, all but 18 months of which was then suspended. He was also placed on probation for three years, fined $500 and ordered to pay $270 in restitution to the victim.