RIVERSIDE – A University of California (UCR) professor faces up to life in prison for a domestic violence assault on his wife of 10 years. On Tuesday, November 22, 2016, after a week of testimony and two hours of deliberations, Michael Lamar Vanderwood, 52, of Riverside was found guilty of torture, and domestic violence.
On August 23, 2014, the victim arrived home from a trip to Temecula with her female friends to a verbal attack by Vanderwood. The verbal attack included threats to harm the victim. The victim who was in fear for her life attempted to escape the verbal attack by going upstairs, but Vanderwood followed. “Scared to death”, as the victim described herself, she began to record using her smartphone. When Vanderwood reached the victim he overpowered her, forcing her face into a pillow as he strangled her, plugged her nose, and placed her in a chokehold.
The victim testified that when strangled, while lying down, she was unable to breathe and at some point felt her eyes roll back into her head. The victim said that everything became foggy, but she did not lose consciousness. At some point Vanderwood released the choke hold, then started again, causing her to become dizzy, lightheaded, and to cause blurred vision. The assault lasted for more than 20 minutes, while Vanderwood continued with threats while bending her fingers back, causing extreme pain to the victim.
The victim finally freed herself from the attack, leaving her home and hiding behind a neighbor’s trash can while Vanderwood went searching for her throughout the neighborhood. The victim called a friend, who called 911. Officers and medical personnel arrived and transported the victim to a local hospital. The victim sustained bruising, swelling to the left side of her face and swelling to her left eye, some of which lasted for a month. The strangulation caused both short and long term effects including; the inability to eat for a week, difficulty swallowing and breathing, severe headaches, voice changes, and poor memory and trouble maintaining focus.
The trial included testimony from a forensic medical expert in strangulation, Dr. William Smock from Kentucky. Smock reviewed all of the evidence, including the phone’s audio recording, photographs, and medical records prior to testifying. The victim never lost consciousness, and had no bone fractures. Vanderwood will return to the Hall of Justice in Riverside on December 28, 2016
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