In 2007, James Kuehnlein, then a St. George police officer, made headlines after his bosses fired him over comments he made, caught on tape, taunting a driver. He reportedly said, "You want to try me? You want to try me tonight? You think you've had a bad night? I will ruin your ****ing night."
He went on, however, to work as a sergeant for the Velda City Police Department, where he eventually lost his job again over more serious charges: He had allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, pulling out a handful of her hair and more, leaving her with a minor concussion and injuries to her face and throat.
And now, he has finally been sentenced -- to three years of probation.
"At trial, Kuehnlein tried to convince the jury that he acted in self-defense as he hit the victim, pulled her hair and cursed at her," Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce writes in her announcement of the probation. "The jury wasn't buying it. They found Kuehnlein guilty of second- and third-degree domestic assault."
But Kuehnlein, now 44, was acquitted of the most serious charge against him earlier this year. His attorney has described the dispute as a "he-said-she-said" case.
The circuit attorney's office had recommended a five-year prison sentence. Instead, based on the less harsh conviction he received in April, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Robin Vannoy gave him a "five year suspended execution of sentence and three years of probation." That SES, Joyce's office explains, means he is placed on probation, but his record shows that he has been convicted of a felony.
The circuit attorney's office, in announcing the sentencing, recounts the violent incident that landed him behind bars.
In 2011, he allegedly went to the apartment of a woman he was dating and got into an argument when they sat down to eat. She asked him to leave -- but the confrontation turned physical, the circuit attorney says.
"He choked the woman and threw her to the ground. After he pulled out a handful of her hair, he put his thumb inside her mouth in a 'fish hook' maneuver. The victim bit his thumb to try to stop the attack," the office says.
A neighbor called 911 and told police that "she could hear a woman screaming in terror and a man cursing at her." Cops arrived and arrested him.
Now, years later, he will face probation and have a felony conviction on his record.
Here is the full announcement from Joyce.
In May, we told you about one former Velda City police officer who ended up on the other side of the law. In 2011, James Kuehnlein went to the apartment of the woman he was dating. They sat down to eat but the woman noticed that he was acting strangely. As things escalated, the woman asked him to leave so they could avoid a full blown argument.
Instead of leaving, Kuehnlein got violent. He choked the woman and threw her to the ground. After he pulled out a handful of her hair, he put his thumb inside her mouth in a "fish hook" maneuver. The victim bit his thumb to try to stop the attack.
Meanwhile, a concerned neighbor heard the commotion and called 911. She told police that she could hear a woman screaming in terror and a man cursing at her. Police arrived and arrested Kuehnlein. The woman suffered a minor concussion and injuries to her face and throat.
At trial, Kuehnlein tried to convince the jury that he acted in self-defense as he hit the victim, pulled her hair and cursed at her. The jury wasn't buying it. They found Kuehnlein guilty of second- and third-degree domestic assault. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office recommended a sentence of five years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Yesterday, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Robin R. Vannoy handed down a five year suspended execution of sentence and three years of probation. An SES means that the defendant is placed on probation but his record shows he has been convicted of a felony.
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