PRINEVILLE, Ore. - (Update to add husband and wife testified)
A Crook County man faces at least eight-plus years in prison after a judge concluded a four-day trial Thursday evening by finding him guilty of 18 charges, from assault to attempted rape, in a violent, alcohol-fueled attack on his wife on New Year’s Day 2016, District Attorney Daina Vitolins said.
Circuit Judge Gary Williams acquitted Todd Culver, 51, only on an attempted murder charge after hearing testimony in what Vitolins called “probably the most violent domestic violence case since I’ve been DA" in 2008.
Other charges in the 20-count indictment included several counts of fourth-degree assault and sex abuse, strangulation, coercion, harassment and resisting arrest; Vitolins dropped a criminal mischief charge and Culver pleaded guilty to resisting arrest.
Sentencing is not yet scheduled, but Vitolins said the minimum sentence is 100 months on an unlawful sexual penetration conviction, though she may recommend a longer sentence.
“His defense was the victim assaulted him,” Vitolins said, but while he had no injuries to back up his claim, his wife fled to the sheriff’s office on Jan. 1, 2016 “frightened, fearful and injured. She was kicked, punched, strangled, spit upon, both breasts were bitten, he attempted to rape her and committed the crime of unlawful sexual penetration.” The DA said she had appeared at the sheriff’s office smelling of alcohol because Culver “poured a bottle of beer on her while she was on the ground and dumped a bottle of acetaminophen on her.”
Meanwhile, Vitolins said, “he stayed at the house, posted inappropriate things on her Facebook page and subsequently resisted arrest,” prompting call-out of the region’s CERT emergency response team, since he had several guns at the home and had threatened repeatedly to kill his wife.
In acquitting Culver on the attempted murder charge, the judge found that he had many opportunities to kill her but did not, though “he did say, ‘You’re going to die today, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ strangled her and put the shotgun to her head,” Vitolins said. “For an attempted murder conviction, there must be a substantial step taken to kill the victim," and the judge found he did not do so.
Culver testified in his own defense, while his wife was a witness for the prosecution, Vitolins said.
“This is a significant conviction, involving a terrible domestic violence case,” the prosecutor said. “We’re happy we were able to hold him accountable.”