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Man Who Strangled, Intimidated Girlfriend Gets 6.5 to 15 Years

August 6, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan K. Stricker, 215.348.6576, mkstricker@buckscounty.org

Jonathan Fish
     Jonathan E. Fish

A Bensalem man who strangled his girlfriend and then tried from jail to get her to change her testimony against him was sentenced Friday to serve six and one-half to 15 years in state prison.

Jonathan E. Fish, 32, pleaded guilty June 20 to strangulation and witness intimidation charges before Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr.

On Friday, Fish downplayed his crimes, saying he simply had tried to restrain the victim during a fight. He said he did not intend to intimidate her when he called her from the Bucks County Correctional Facility and asked her to lie in court for him. .

“I really just intended to hold her down. I didn’t try to hurt her….,” he said. “The night of the incident, I was restraining from punching her.”

Bateman responded by holding up photos showing the victim with bruising around her neck where Fish choked her. “I take one look at those photos, and anyone who sees them knows he’s lying,” the judge said.

Assistant District Attorney Megan K. Stricker said the victim, who had been in a five-year relationship with Fish, was unable to breathe for 15 to 20 seconds during the Jan. 17 attack. She said Fish had grabbed the woman by the throat, pushed her against an oven in his kitchen, and then choked her again on the floor.

“What other intention does someone have when they place a hand around somebody’s neck to the point where they can’t breathe?” Stricker said. “He knew exactly what he was doing.”

The victim described her time with Fish as “a happy-go-lucky relationship that went south” when he began indulging in drugs. When sober, she said, Fish “is not this crazy person who goes around strangling people … He goes from hot to cold in seconds, and it’s only when he’s on drugs.”

Comparing the assault and its aftermath to “a dream that I can’t wake up from,” the woman told Bateman she wanted Fish to receive “intense” rehabilitation, including mental health treatment.

The victim’s father, who also spoke in court, was less forgiving.

“How do you beat up a woman you love? I just don’t understand it,” he said. “My daughter was manhandled by a guy. Beat up by a guy. That’s the root of the problem.”

After being arrested – and while under court order not to contact the victim – Fish called her from prison, urging her to help him beat the charges, Stricker said.

“I’ll literally go on the stand and be like, `I pushed her and I grabbed her by her throat … but I did not continuously choke her.’ You know what I mean?” Fish said in the call, according to court documents. “And then you just say that you put some marks on you to make it worse. That’s it. You don’t get in trouble. I don’t get in trouble, in that much trouble.”

“Yeah, but that’s not fair,” the victim replied. “That’s not fair.”

In court, Fish said he “really wasn’t thinking” when he made that call. Asking the victim to lie “wasn’t the right thing to say,” he said, but he denied he was trying to intimidate her.

“I don’t agree that either the assault or the intimidation was an act of desperation. It was an act of selfishness,” Stricker argued. “… Jonathan Fish is only looking out for Jonathan Fish.”  

Bateman derided Fish’s claim that he had never acted violently toward a woman before. The judge said that a domestic violence investigation submitted by Stricker showed that Fish had shoved his mother into a table, smashed an ex-girlfriend in the head, had additional disturbances involving women and last year told the victim he “would kill her if she ran away” from him, the judge said.

“You’ve minimized your role and your responsibility for this throughout the case,” the judge said. “The amount of courage [the victim has] shown by standing up to you this time is really remarkable.”

Bateman sentenced Fish to serve two and one-half to five years on the strangulation charge, followed by a consecutive four to 10 years for witness intimidation. He ordered Fish to have no contact with the victim.

The case was investigated by the Bensalem Township Police Department.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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