A Kent, Wash., man received a suspended sentence and two years’ probation Friday after pleading guilty to felonious assault for strangling his ex-wife in the course of trying to seize custody of their 10-year-old daughter last summer.
The domestic dispute erupted Aug. 22, 2018, about 3 p.m. in the 700 block of William Street in Perry, where David Ross Walt, 35, entered the home of his ex-wife, Kara Kenworthy, 36, and her fiance, David Countryman, 58.
A fight ensued, and Walt was arrested by officers of the Perry Police Department on four charges: a felony charge of domestic assault-impeding blood or airflow-strangulation with injury, aggravated misdemeanor charges of assault causing bodily injury and child endangerment and a serious misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass with bodily injury.
Walt’s wife, Morgan M. Walt, 35, of Kent, Wash., was also arrested in the incident and charged with violation of a no-contact order. Her charge was later dismissed.
“They both showed up, broke in and beat the snot out of me and my fiance, trying to get to my daughter,” Kenworthy told ThePerryNews.com. “We may have permanent damage from him, and my daughter is so scared she booby traps her room at night. He did irreparable damage.”
Walt entered a guilty plea in December in the form of an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence, albeit admitting the evidence presented by the prosecution would likely persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Kenworthy provided photographic evidence to ThePerryNews.com of her physical injuries.
At the Feb. 1 sentencing hearing, Dallas County District Court Judge Richard B. Clogg issued an order deferring judgment in Walt’s case, but Clogg later “set aside and held for naught” his order after evidence emerged indicating Walt had a prior felony conviction in California.
Under Iowa law, a deferred judgment is not available to a defendant with a prior felony conviction.
A second sentencing hearing for Walt was scheduled for Feb. 22, at which First Assistant Dallas County Attorney Jeannine Ritchie provided evidence to the court that Walt was convicted in August 2015 in San Diego County, Calif, of attempting “to unlawfully solicit or have sexual contact with a minor under the age of 18.”
Dallas County District Court Judge Randy V. Hefner presided over Walt’s second sentencing hearing. Hefner noted in Ritchie’s evidence “there was a reference to the girl in California who was the target of the solicitation by Mr. Walt was 14.”
Amy K. Davis, Walt’s attorney from the Babich Goldman law form in Des Moines, explained the circumstances of Walt’s prior conviction.
“There was a sting operation by the San Diego Police Department to attempt to catch predators,” Davis said. “There was an initial contact between the acting officer and Mr. Walt and when the acting officer indicated that he or she was under the age of 14, Mr. Walt said, ‘I’m done. I’m not doing this.’ It appears that two to three months later, there was a second contact by this officer, and neither Mr. Walt nor the officer realized there had been a first contact. At that point, there was no age given by the officer. There was an indiction that perhaps the officer was portraying himself as an under-age person and was still in school, but there was no definite age given in any of the communications that Mr. Walt had with the officer at that point, which is why this was an attempted crime and not a completed crime.”
In summing up the state’s case, Ritchie said “the type of violence, the incredible scene that was presented at the time of this offense in front of a child” should be considered in sentencing Walt. “Those circumstances together would indicate that this is an offense that the defendant needs to be held accountable for,” she said. “I believe that probation is appropriate. However, I believe that this should be on his record as a conviction.”
Hefner accepted the prosecution’s argument and suspended Walt’s five-year prison sentence, imposing two years’ probation and a five-year no-contact order, ordering participation in domestic abuse and anger management programs and assessing a $750 fine plus a $100 domestic-abuse surcharge, court costs and victim restitution.
The charges of child endangerment and trespass were dismissed.
“I want everyone to see what kind of monster he is,” Kenworthy said. “His arrogance is beyond anything I have witnessed before. He tried to say my fiance, who was knocked unconscious first, was the one to beat me to make it look like he did more than he did. Thankfully, we have police reports that state otherwise as well as the DHS report.”
The question of Kenworthy and Walt’s child-custody claims is still in the courts.
“My daughter is doing very well here,” Kenworthy said. “She’s in counseling every week because of everything, but she’s made some great friends who will protect her and stand by her.”