(Stillwater, Okla.) A 41-year-old Stillwater man has been charged with choking the 8-year-old son of his girlfriend and shoving the woman to the ground in the presence of her two children, following an investigation by the state Department of Human Services that included interviews with the children at the Saville Center.
Christopher Norman Sandford had been originally charged with domestic abuse in the presence of minors, a misdemeanor that was dismissed by the prosecution on Oct. 1 and re-filed the next day with the felony child abuse count added, court records show.
Sandford was arraigned on the new two-count charge last week and ordered to return to court on Nov. 2. He remains free on $2,500 bail he had posted on his original misdemeanor domestic abuse charge.
Stillwater Police Detective John Paul Johnson wrote in an affidavit that on Aug. 29 at 2:35 p.m. two other police officers responded to a physical domestic assault in progress involving knives at Sandford’s residence.
“As a result of that call, a referral was made to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Child Welfare Division out of concern for the children,” an 8-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl, who were both interviewed at the Saville Center in Stillwater on Sept. 2, the affidavit said.
The boy said that Sandford threw a table at his mother, choked her, kicked her and pushed her into a car, the day before they had to go to the women’s shelter, the affidavit alleged.
The boy said that Sandford was mad and threw their bikes out of the garage, the affidavit said. The boy said “he was hit in the stomach by a pedal on one of the bikes,” the affidavit alleged.
The boy said “he was scared that his mom was going to get hurt because Sandford had a knife and was trying to stab,” his mother, which he demonstrated for a forensic interviewer “by mimicking a knife being held to his upper chest/lower neck area,” the affidavit alleged.
The boy then said “Sandford was stabbing the wall, mimicking the knife being stabbed four to five times in the wall, outlining a person backed up to the wall,” the affidavit alleged.
The boy said that Sandford dropped his knife on the boy’s foot that caused some bleeding, the affidavit alleged.
The boy said “Sandford choked him and demonstrated a ‘C’ clamp-style one-handed choke on his own neck.
“He said that it hurt and said he could not breathe or talk while being choked,” the affidavit alleged.
The boy said that during this time, his mother was lying on the floor crying in the doorway next to Sandford, the affidavit alleged.
His mother might not have been in a position to see Sandford choking her son, the affidavit alleged.
The boy said “he was unable to run away because of the way Sandford had grabbed him,” the affidavit alleged.
The boy said that Sandford “apologized to him after he got out of jail,” on bail, the affidavit alleged.
The boy’s 6-year-old sister said that Sandford had been drinking and wanted the car keys, which her mother would not give him, the affidavit alleged.
The girl said “Sandford had a knife in his hand and she demonstrated a stabbing motion with the knife, but she said Sandford didn’t kill her mom because her mom ducked,” the affidavit alleged.
The girl said that Sandford was trying to stab her mother in the throat, but stabbed the wall instead, the affidavit alleged.
The girl said that “while stabbing the wall, Sandford said ‘I will kill you,’” the affidavit alleged.
The girl said “Sandford got the knife from the kitchen drawer where they keep all their knives,” the affidavit alleged.
The girl said she saw Sandford grab her brother by the throat and lift him up by a chokehold, the affidavit alleged.
She said that her brother couldn’t talk during this time because Sandford was choking him, but her brother was able to kick Sandford in the leg, the affidavit alleged.
She said that her mother “was not in a position to see this because she was still on the floor after being pushed into the car,” the affidavit alleged.
She said that Sandford choked her mother “and picked her up by the throat as well,” the affidavit alleged.
Several times, the 6-year-old girl demonstrated a two-handed choking motion around her own neck while talking about Sandford choking her mother or her brother, the affidavit alleged.
The girl said that Sandford lifted her mother so much that her feet were off the ground, the affidavit alleged.
If convicted of abusing the girl’s brother by choking him, which is a felony, Sandford could be given a sentence of one year in jail to life in prison and fined up to $5,000, court records show.
If convicted of abusing her mother in the presence of children, which is a misdemeanor, Sandford could be given a sentence of six months to one year in jail and fined $5,000, court records show.