A former Brown County man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday in 35th District Court for assaulting and choking the woman with whom he lived.
    Brown County Court-at-Law Judge Sam Moss, sitting as district judge, earlier convicted Jason Gross, 36, of assault family violence — occlusion.
     Moss also entered a deadly weapon finding after Assistant District Attorney Elisha Bird argued that Gross had used a knife and his hands as a deadly weapon. That finding enhanced the sentencing range from a third degree to a second degree felony, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
    Until Friday, Gross had continued living with Katrina Valdez, the woman he assaulted on in Jan. 14, 2014, according to testimony. The two were living just outside Bangs when the assault occurred and were living in Dublin at the time of the trial.
    Bird told Moss in her opening statement that he would hear evidence that Gross choked Valdez and threatened her with a knife. Moss would also hear evidence that Gross told deputies who arrested him that he would immediately bond out of jail and that Valdez would say nothing had happened.
    Bird said she expected Valdez to testify that she was injured during rough sex and that when the two had an altercation later, she had provoked it. Bird said she expected Valdez to testify that she’d been heavily intoxicated when she told deputies Gross had assaulted her and that she recanted, signing an affidavit stating she did not desire prosecution.
    Bird said deputies would testify that she was not intoxicated but was crying when she gave them details of the assault. Bird submitted photos as evidence that showed Valdez with numerous bruises.
    Valdez, 40, the state’s first witness, testified as Bird had expected. Valdez said Gross had put pressure on her jaw area when she asked him to choke her during sex, saying she wanted to experiment.
    Valdez acknowledged the two had an altercation later but said she was “very drunk” when she talked to deputies. “There were a lot of things that were stated that weren’t accurate,” Valdez testified.
    “I do love him and I do not want to cut ties with him,” Valdez testified.
    Bird played a deputy’s video that depicted a belligerent Gross telling deputies Valdez would say nothing had happened.
    When Bird asked Valdez if she told a deputy Gross had threatened to cut the throats of her and her daughter and cripple her son-in-law, Valdez said she was intoxicated when she talked to the deputy and can’t recall.
    Bird asked Valdez if she’d made it difficult for process servers to find her and give her a subpoena to court. Valdez said she wasn’t hiding but acknowledged she didn’t want to be served and had spent eight days in Alabama. “I thought that it would help Jason if there was no witness,” Valdez testified.
    “When I get drunk, I lie,” Valdez said.
    After Moss convicted Gross, defense attorney David Stokes of Stephenville asked Moss to consider the fact that Gross and Valdez have quit drinking and are doing better together now. Stokes noted that a pre-sentence investigation showed a previous felony conviction for forgery and two previous misdemeanor convictions.
    Bird told Moss that while Valdez may blame herself for her issues, Gross had called her vile names. Gross used marijuana up until a week before the trial, Bird told Moss. “Katrina Valdez may not realize it, but she deserves justice,” Bird said. “No woman deserves to be strangled by her lover under any circumstances.”
    Gross had “controlled and threatened and manipulated the victim to the point that she comes in and lies under oath,” Bird told Moss.
    Moss said he did not find Valdez’s testimony credible and said he believed she’d told the truth when she told deputies immediately after the assault what happened.