Wife abuser gets 10 years

Jonathan Whalin

Judge Lance Timbreza

A Mesa County district judge on Friday delivered a stinging rebuke to a Fruita man who pleaded guilty to domestic violence-related charges after a series of incidents in December 2015, during which he forced his then-wife to undress and stand outdoors in subzero temperatures, strangled her, kicked her out and threatened to kill their infant son if she weren’t home within seconds.

Judge Lance Timbreza said he wanted to reject the plea deal that stipulated 33-year-old Jonathan David Whalin would serve 10 years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to a felony count of stalking — Whalin’s first felony — and misdemeanor counts of child abuse and assault.

Timbreza said he felt that 10 years in prison wasn’t enough, but he worried Whalin wouldn’t be able to get a fair jury.

“It’s taken everything I have to sit here and remember my job is to be unbiased, to do what’s fair, to provide justice,” Timbreza said. “My heart wants to see (Mesa County prosecutor Bo) Zeerip try this case.”

Investigators found that the December 2015 incident offered just a glimpse of what the victim’s life was like married to Whalin, said Fruita Police Detective Lisa Dicamillo on Friday, calling the case “some of the worst” domestic violence she’s seen.

The victim said Whalin strangled her more than once, blackened her eye while she was at the hospital after giving birth to their son and regularly kicked her out of the house.

Once, she said, he told her she had to be at work at a certain time and needed to prove she was there by calling him immediately from her work phone. Rushing through fog, she hit black ice and wrecked the car.

Whalin, the victim said, was furious.

“He said I should have told him what the road conditions were,” she said.

Timbreza said recordings of Whalin’s voicemails to the victim and transcripts of the profanity-laced, demeaning texts he sent her — which Timbreza compared to the appeasing responses the victim sent — will “haunt” him forever.

Timbreza read several text exchanges aloud in court, punctuating Whalin’s obscene insults, none of which could be printed in this newspaper.

“These aren’t just random texts,” Timbreza said. “There are hundreds of pages of these.”

Defense attorney JR Davis, who credited the victim for her strength of character, said Whalin has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and urged Timbreza to accept the plea.

The diagnosis isn’t a justification, “but at least it gives some sort of explanation” to Whalin’s erratic and abusive behavior, Davis said, adding that with the conviction Whalin will be eligible to be charged as a habitual domestic violence offender in the future.

“The whole case is a tragedy,” Davis wrote in an email after the sentencing. “It’s a tragedy for everyone.”

Timbreza ultimately agreed to the plea deal after Zeerip said the victim was in favor of it, but ordered Whalin to pay a $50,000 fine as well as court fees.

Whalin apologized at the hearing.

“I am just deeply grieved that I ever threatened my wife and my son this way,” Whalin said.


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