Strangulation charge against James City man certified to grand jury

WILLIAMSBURG - A felony charge against a James City man accused of choking a 20-year-old man, then breaking multiple bones in his face by head-butting him was certified Thursday to a grand jury.

Kenneth D. Sturgell, 30, appeared in General District Court to face a preliminary hearing on charges of strangulation, malicious wounding and obstruction of justice. The latter two charges were dropped by the prosecution, but Commonwealth's Attorney Nate Green said his office will consider bringing those charges back at grand jury.

Police said the incident took place between 2:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. on July 3 at a home on Elbow Beach Lane when an argument escalated into a physical altercation.

The 20-year-old man testified he and his girlfriend were leaving the house to go for a walk when Sturgell, who the man said he knew as his girlfriend's cousin, called out to him. He said he approached, and Sturgell attacked him. He conceded that he could not recall if Sturgell said anything before things became physical.

"He picked me up by the throat, tried to lift me up, and then slammed me to the ground," the man said.

He said Sturgell had both hands around his throat while he was lying face up on the ground. Asked by Green if the pressure on his throat was hampering his breathing, the man answered yes.

The man told the court that at one point during the incident Sturgell head-butted him and his nose began to bleed. The two men hadn't had any problems before the altercation, according to the 20-year-old's testimony.

He said he didn't seek medical treatment immediately because Sturgell threatened his and his girlfriend's lives.

"He said if I called 911 on him, he would hunt down me and my girlfriend and kill us both," the man said.

The 20-year-old man said he sought medical treatment two days later, and learned he had suffered two breaks in his nose, a fractured eye socket and a concussion.