Local News

Tuesday, Mar 11 2014 06:19 PM

Torture charge dismissed in plea deal regarding 2012 case

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A Bakersfield man who faced the possibility of life without parole if found guilty of torture in connection with injuries a woman suffered in 2012, accepted a plea deal Monday in which he'll be free in nine months.

Kristopher Lawless pleaded no contest to spousal abuse and dissuading a witness, according to court records. The deal offered by prosecutors is a 4-year, 8-month stint in prison, but Lawless will be released far earlier because of time served.

Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman, Lawless' attorney, noted that Lawless had already been acquitted of attempted murder, criminal threats and mayhem at a 2013 trial and had sought to fully exonerate his name in his retrial on the other charges. Prosecutors offered the plea deal four days into the retrial's jury selection.

"We are very pleased with the result, and in essence likely saved his life," Cadman said in reference to the life sentence Lawless potentially faced.

Lawless is scheduled to be sentenced April 8. He was found guilty of two drug charges and hit-and-run resulting in property damage in the first trial.

Bakersfield police have said the victim had suffered numerous visible and significant injuries when they responded to a residence in the 7100 block of Firebaugh Street on Nov. 1, 2012 for a domestic violence report.

The victim told police she'd had an argument with Lawless three days earlier at his residence in the 3800 block of Balboa Drive, east of South H Street and north of White Lane. Police said she told investigators Lawless knocked her unconscious, tied her up and abused her.

The woman escaped and flagged down a passing motorist who took her to a friend's house, police said.

Lawless has been in custody since his arrest following the woman's report. Court records show he's been arrested numerous times in the past, pleading no contest to vehicle theft in 2005 and to disorderly conduct in connection with prostitution in October 2012.

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