Lynnwood man accused of attempted murder, strangling woman

Police say they intervened just as the man was killing her. Months ago, he choked a different woman.

LYNNWOOD — A Lynnwood man tried to kill a woman who had a restraining order against him, but officers interrupted him while he was strangling her almost to death, according to police reports filed in court Wednesday.

It’s the second time in under a year that Alexander Mitchell, 28, has been arrested for investigation of choking a woman. He’d learned about the grappling moves from mixed martial arts on TV, he told police.

The first time he served a sentence of 14 days in jail.

This time, he’s accused of attempted murder.

A neighbor called 911 to report sounds of a serious fight — screaming, body slamming — around 11:40 p.m. Monday, coming from an apartment on 52nd Avenue W.

Shouting had been going on for at least 15 minutes when police knocked on the door. A woman holding a child, age 4, told police she had been arguing with a boyfriend and that he’d threatened to kill her. He’d squeezed his hands on her neck three times, and at one point, her vision went black and she believed she would die, she reported. She told officers that “if police had not arrived, she would be dead.”

Police found the suspect upstairs, hiding under a bed.

Mitchell reportedly claimed he acted in self-defense. He said the woman punched him in the face, and he’d responded by grabbing her by the throat and holding her in an “MMA style choke hold for about two minutes,” police wrote. He said he watched mixed martial arts on television often, and that he knew the hold could result in death or serious injury. He reported he released her neck when he heard police knock.

Officers took photos of the woman’s injuries. They appeared consistent with what she’d reported, police wrote. Lynnwood officers booked Mitchell into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of attempted second-degree murder.

Months ago, Mitchell had been arrested for assaulting a woman he’d met on the internet. They’d been intimate but not in a committed relationship. Once the brief romance faded, they remained roommates at a home in Renton, according to court papers.

After a tense argument over text messages, the two got into an fight when the woman came home late June 22. Mitchell was blasting music. She turned it down — and that aggravated him further. He grabbed her from behind by the neck and body slammed her onto the ground. He straddled her and strangled her. She passed out. He relented, then got up and locked the door. He put her in a headlock at least two more times in a bedroom, and she lost consciousness both times, according to the woman’s report.

“I was almost at the point where (I) just wanted him to do it, to just strangle me ‘cause I was tired of him torturing me,” the woman told police.

Eventually, he let her take a shower, but he locked himself in the bathroom with her while intimidating her with a kitchen knife, according to the woman’s report. Mitchell threatened to force her to take pills that would kill her, and he made a motion with the knife across her throat without touching her skin, according to the charges. Mitchell made a comment to her about being a UFC fighter, and he talked about himself as if he were someone else.

Eventually he decided he needed to leave. Renton police caught up to him, and he denied doing anything wrong.

Police suspected Mitchell had abused the Renton woman’s dog, too, in a separate incident from weeks earlier that left the the animal with severe head trauma.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to reduced charges of domestic violence assault in the third degree. At his sentencing in November, he was given credit for the time he’d already served, and he was not booked back into jail.

Domestic violence cases involving strangulation often end up being investigated and charged as second-degree assault, a felony, in Washington state. In the Lynnwood case, Everett District Court Judge Anthony Howard found probable cause to hold Mitchell for investigation of attempted murder, in part based on the reported statement that he intended to kill.

The judge set bail Wednesday at $200,000, as requested by the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office.

Studies have shown that women are at much greater risk of being killed by their intimate partner, if there’s a history of domestic violence involving strangulation. One study in 2007 found an incident of nonfatal choking increased the odds sevenfold of that relationship ending in homicide.

Mitchell’s two recent arrests involved two different women. He had been served with a no-contact order concerning the Lynnwood woman on Dec. 2, less than a month after he was sentenced in the first case.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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