Man accused of choking girlfriend waives charges
CATAWISSA - The case against a Bloomsburg man accused of choking his girlfriend in December to the point where the victim's 13-year-old son pointed a shotgun at him to get him to stop was sent to county court.
Samuel Russell Bennick, 34, of 335 W. Fourth St., who remains free on bail, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Craig Long under the advisement of Columbia County public defender Leslie Bryden.
After Long instructed him about his rights and the ramifications of forfeiting his hearing where testimony could have been presented, Bennick signed several documents before leaving the courtroom.
The defendant was ordered by Long to avoid contact with the alleged victim, Wendy Champoux, of 209 Quaker Meeting House Road, Locust Township. He also must refrain from having contact with any witnesses in the case including Champoux's son, who reportedly prevented Bennick from continuing his assault on Champoux at 12:30 a.m. Dec. 26 at the victim's home by threatening him with a shotgun.
Bryden, who said the Court of Common Pleas in Bloomsburg will set the date for the next legal proceeding, reserved further comment.
Bennick was charged last month by Locust Township Patrolman Christopher Snyder with misdemeanors of simple assault, criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking, and three misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person for his alleged actions.
Champoux, who was Bennick's girlfriend for only 55 days when the altercation occurred, is no longer in a relationship with the defendant.
Champoux told police Bennick assaulted her, causing marks on her chest and a bruise on her left leg.
Teen said gun was loaded
According to court documents, Champoux said Bennick became angry on Christmas night over a phone call between her and a friend, Regina Bradeur, who apparently hates Bennick.
For the next 20 minutes, Bennick, who was smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages, "raged and screamed" at Champoux, and she calmly told him that "no friend of hers speaks to her that way, especially not a boyfriend," police said.
While in a garage where the argument took place, Bennick allegedly stole a bag containing handcuffs, lighters and bowls for smoking marijuana to "make a point," police said.
Police said Champoux ended their relationship immediately, police said.
After a few moments of calmness, Bennick again starting yelling and Champoux's 10-year-old daughter, who was playing in the living room, asked him to stop, but he refused, police said.
Champoux's 13-year-old son then told the couple to take the argument outside.
Police said Bennick later threw the woman to the floor and walls by the throat.
The children retreated to their room, and Bennick would not allow Champoux to gain entry, throwing her back approximately a dozen times, police said.
According to a police report, Bennick took Champoux by the throat, began choking her and crushing her chest with his other fist.
Champoux's daughter came out to tell Bennick to stop, and told police she saw Bennick crushing her mother on the dryer and against the wall, police said.
At that point, Champoux's son opened the door holding a 20-gauge Mossberg shotgun and told Bennick he had two slugs loaded, police said.
Bennick then backed away, police said.
The defendant also is accused of ripping a cupboard door off the hinges in Champoux's kitchen, smashing glasses, mugs, plates, Christmas decorations and family heirlooms, and damaging Champoux's crystal, mineral and gem collection, police said.
Champoux was granted a protection from abuse order against Bennick Dec. 27.