Man pleads guilty to injuring girlfriend
A Ramona man who was involved in a 7 1/2-hour standoff with sheriff’s deputies pleaded guilty April 5 to inflicting corporal injuries upon his girlfriend, who said he choked her.
Lawrence Steven Monterastelli, 42, will be sentenced on May 4 in El Cajon Superior Court. Both his attorney, former District Attorney Paul Pfingst, and Deputy District Attorney Timothy Campen said he will likely get a suspended jail term.
Pfingst said Monterastelli may get a suspended 180-day jail term and, after his client finishes domestic violence classes, he anticipates having the felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor while on terms of probation.
“My client will do the classes,” said Pfingst.
Campen said the maximum sentence is four years in prison and a $10,000 fine, but he will not seek a prison term. If Monterastelli is placed on probation and has serious violations, he could go to prison.
The charge Monterastelli pleaded guilty to was the only charge not dismissed at the March 12 preliminary hearing regarding the Oct. 11 and 12 incident outside his house in the 2700 block of Luelf Street in Ramona.
Campen refiled some of the dismissed charges, which included making a criminal threat, assault with a firearm and attempting to dissuade a witness from reporting a crime. However, they reached a plea agreement with the corporal injury charge and Judge Herbert Exarhos dismissed the refiled charges.
The 38-year-old woman and her two children lived with Monterastelli, but they moved out after he was arrested. A restraining order bars Monterastelli from contacting her.
The woman testified at the preliminary hearing, and photos showed she had redness around her neck from where she had been choked. But she had difficulty remembering details and what she told sheriff’s deputies.
Pfingst said the woman was on a pain medication because she had knee surgery and also drank alcohol, and the combination made her not able to recall events clearly. She was interviewed by deputies at 4 a.m. on Oct. 12. The woman first called deputies around 9:14 p.m. after she argued with Monterastelli, but the call was interrupted and hung up. Deputies arrived and talked with both of them and then left.
Around 10:30 p.m., the woman called deputies from a neighbor’s house and said her boyfriend had pointed a loaded 9 mm handgun at her and he had choked her earlier. She said Monterastelli threatened to kill her and her children.
Neighbors called 911, saying they heard three to four shots fired before deputies showed up. Deputies then surrounded Monterastelli’s home. The woman’s children remained inside the home. Deputies couldn’t find Monterastelli initially, but they contacted the two children, ages 9 and 12, and they came outside around 4 a.m. They were not harmed.
Pfingst said his client went inside a recreational vehicle parked at the house before deputies showed up and fell asleep. The woman reported he had been drinking.
“There was no standoff. He was asleep in the RV,” said Pfingst earlier.
Once deputies learned he was in the motorhome, they used tear gas to force him from the vehicle, and he surrendered around 6 a.m. on Oct. 12. He remains free on $250,000 bond.
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