AUGUSTA — An Albion man initially accused of beating and choking a woman who was pregnant with his child — who had initially been charged with elevated aggravated assault on a pregnant person — pleaded guilty to lesser charges Friday and will spend 45 days in jail.

Joseph W. Reynolds

The then-pregnant woman, who a state prosecutor said was the primary victim in the case, said in court Friday the initial accusations against Joseph W. Reynolds, 43, were inaccurate.

His lawyer, Lisa Whittier, said Reynolds was overcharged by police in the incident and there was no evidence to support the initial Class A felony charge of elevated aggravated assault on a pregnant person, nor any evidence of any bodily injury in the case.

That since-dropped charge would have been punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

The state prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Murray-James, said the victim came to the district attorney’s office after Reynolds’ arrest to say the initial information they received was not accurate and she was not sure whether Reynolds had hit or kicked her in the incident.

The victim testified in court that Reynolds was mad at his ex-wife, not at her, which is what instigated the incident.

Reynolds pleaded guilty to domestic violence assault and assault, for, during the incident, striking and choking a 14-year-old girl who intervened to defend her mother, the primary victim, by jumping on Reynolds’ back.

He was sentenced under the terms of a plea agreement to 364 days in jail with all but 45 days suspended, and two years probation. That means he’ll spend 45 days in jail but if he doesn’t comply with the terms of his probation he could have to serve the full 364 days.

Murray-James said if the case had gone to trial police would have testified the victims told police Reynolds had been drinking copious amounts of alcohol and using marijuana, and had thrown the family’s Christmas tree and took items from the home outside and burned them. Then a physical altercation took place inside the house between Reynolds and the two victims, while there were other children present.

The victim, whom the Kennebec Journal is not identifying because its policy is not to identify alleged victims of domestic violence crimes without their consent, was 35 weeks pregnant at the time of the incident.

The baby was born Jan. 9.

The woman told Justice Michaela Murphy she wants Reynolds to be able to have contact with their baby and she also hopes to reestablish her relationship with Reynolds.

“I would eventually like to reunite and get back to life as it was,” she said, later describing him as “an amazing dad.”

She said she had no concerns about Reynolds being able to handle a baby. She said he would not be drinking and claimed he had “never been mad at me.”

She cried when Murphy said she would not, for now, allow Reynolds to have any contact with their baby, under the terms of his probation. Probation conditions also only allow contact between Reynolds and the woman victim by phone, text, email or mail.

“At this juncture I’m not going to allow any contact between him and the baby,” Murphy said. “This is an incident that could have spun out of control and that baby could have been hurt.”

She said the couple may seek to have that condition modified by the court in the future as things progress.

An affidavit filed in court by Kennebec County Sheriff’s Deputy Elijah J. Curtis said the victim told him Reynolds got mad and started yelling at her and the kids and pushed their Christmas tree over, but she then blacked out, so she could not provide details of the incident.

When Curtis questioned Reynolds, he admitted to drinking and said he had gotten into an argument with the woman over clothes, and took the clothes outside and started burning them. Reynolds claimed he knocked over the Christmas tree and then “the girls all started attacking him, so he went back outside and waited for law enforcement to show up.” He denied hitting anyone and said they were lying.

The victim’s daughter, the 14-year-old other victim in the case, said Reynolds had hit and choked her mother until she blacked out so she began hitting Reynolds who then started choking her, according to the affidavit. Then other children in the home intervened.

“All of the children in the house jumped on Joseph (Reynolds) to protect” the daughter, Curtis wrote. That’s when the woman called police, “so Reynolds went back outside and they locked him out of the house.”

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