Robert William Elston

AUGUSTA — An Augusta man arrested on charges he strangled, hit and threw a woman to the ground allegedly used a device he’d attached to her cell phone to record her being interviewed by police.

Robert William Elston, 29, was arrested Saturday night and charged with domestic violence assault, aggravated assault, and criminal invasion of computer privacy.

Augusta police responding to a report of a suspicious incident on Washington Street Wednesday night met with a crying woman who lives with Elston, and an officer noticed what looked like broken blood vessels on either side of her neck.

The woman said Elston had backed her into an air conditioner in their apartment and, afraid he was going to become physically violent against her, she placed her hands on his shoulders to push him away, according to an affidavit written by officer Brett Lowell. She told police when she did, he reached up, grabbed her by the ponytail and yanked her head back, then grabbed her by the throat with both hands and squeezed to the point she could not breathe. She said he then swung her around by her neck, threw her to the floor and struck her in her left eye as she held her hands up in front of her face to try to guard herself. He released his grasp and she ran out of the apartment, according to the affidavit.

On Saturday, police escorted the victim, who told police she is pregnant with Elston’s child, to the Washington Street apartment she shared with him to get some of her belongings. There officers spoke with a neighbor, who provided police with a recording that, the affidavit states, was police interviewing the victim at the Augusta Police Department. Elston allegedly played the recording for the neighbor, who recorded it and provided that to police. The responding officer reported he recognized the conversation as one he’d had with the victim at the police department Thursday.

The affidavit stated the neighbor said Elston said he had a “spy app” attached to the victim’s phone through which he could hear anything that is said in the area of her phone.

Elston, who initially could not be located by police earlier last week, was arrested Saturday after he was seen moving items out of the Washington Street apartment. He was taken to Kennebec County jail, initially with no bail. Bail was set Monday at $1,000 cash.

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