Monterey County

Marina man sentenced to prison for 9 years for strangling his wife

SALINAS, Calif. - A Marina man is headed to state prison for nine years for strangling his wife in 2011, according to the Monterey County District Attorney's Office.

Michael Fortner was convicted of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. Prosecutors say he strangled his wife twice on Nov. 4, 2011, causing her to become unconscious.

Last week, Fortner was sentenced to four years in prison on the assault charge and an additional five years for personally inflicting great bodily injury.

Fortner has a history of violence, including a 1999 felony assault on a police officer. Prosecutors said he hit his wife while on vacation in Hawaii in 2010 so hard she lost sight in her left eye. According to court records, the pair did not marry until after the attack in Hawaii. He was not charged in the Hawaii case, however. Monterey County prosecutors sought to prosecute Fortner for that incident but an appeals court later ruled that they did not have the jurisdiction to do so because the incident had happened out of state.

Fortner also was ordered to serve an additional three years to run concurrently for injuring the victim's chest. A second concurrent three-year sentence was added for violating a restraining order by calling his wife from the Monterey County Jail after his arrest.

Strangulation experts testified that a victim of non-lethal strangulation is seven times more likely to become a homicide victim and that lack of oxygen to the brain during an episode of strangulation resulting in unconsciousness can cause severe trauma to the brain.

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