General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom has upped an aggravated assault charge against Dennis Adam Wininger to attempted first-degree murder and jumped his bond to $500,000. She did so in a case in which his wife said he choked her until she blacked out, kicked and stomped her, broke her collarbone, blackened both eyes, inflicted bruises on her face and neck, and threatened to slit her throat with a box cutter.
Despite all the damage, Jennifer Wininger sobbed as the action was taken against her husband of five years, saying, "I love him very, very much."
Judge Statom said, "He doesn't love you, ma'am. Let's be real clear on that. If you don't get away from him, these ladies who are trying to help you will attend your funeral."
She told Wininger, "You will kill her. It's just a matter of time."
Wininger, now 29, was in the news in 2010 when General Sessions Court Judge David Bales set a $70,000 bond in his domestic assault case and then Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern released him on an OR bond. Judge Bales summoned before him the attorney who had appealed to Criminal Court.
Judge Bales then pushed his bond higher to $80,000. Judge Stern had Circuit Court Judge Jackie Bolton sit in for her and she lowered Wininger's bond to $4,000.
In that case, Jennifer Wininger said her husband grabbed her in a headlock and later choked her. Pictures were introduced showing her with an injury to her mouth, bruises on her arms, neck and below her ear and with a black eye and a knot on her head. It was testified that Wininger slung his wife across a room, causing her to hit her head on a night stand. She said he then punched her in the face and slammed her into a bed.
Some attorneys filed an ethics complaint against Judge Bales in that matter. Judge Bales was reprimanded over that and another incident.
There was an issue at the time on whether Wininger was receiving special treatment because his mother, Bunzie Wininger, was a long-time employee of Criminal Court. She has since retired.
At the hearing this week, City Police Officer Perry Walden said he was called to the Wininger residence on Gray Drive in East Brainerd on Saturday, March 15, at 9:01 a.m. He said the right eye of Jennifer Wininger "looked like she had been in a boxing match. It was terrible."
He said she had a tag on that indicated she had been to a medical facility.
Officer Walden said Ms. Wininger told him, "I don't want to talk about it. I don't want the police involved." He said she also asked, "I'm not in trouble, am I?" She said she did not know who had called the police.
The officer said he got another call to the same address at 11:22 a.m. on a "male beating a female." He said he found Wininger outside on a cell phone. He said he immediately handcuffed him.
He said Ms. Wininger said, "Look what he's done to me now."
Officer Walden said she had fresh abrasions on her face and her left eye was black.
He said he took a box cutter from Wininger's pocket. His wife said he had put it to her throat and threatened to kill her.
Ms. Wininger said her husband had kicked and stomped her, then put her in a chair and slapped her around and beat her.
The officer said he was advised that the victim's father was en route "and we need to go ahead and transport him (Wininger)."
Officer Walden said, "I felt if we didn't do something he was going to kill her."
Robin Brewer of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults said two days before the arrest of Wininger that Jennifer Wininger had attended a domestic assault support group and had her right eye blackened then. She said, "It was huge. It was almost swollen shut."
Ms. Brewer said she took pictures of Ms. Wininger's injuries, including places where she said her husband had tried to strangle her and held a knife to her throat.
She said two days after the arrest that Ms. Wininger had two knots on her head, a black and blue foot and marks around her neck. She said there were footprints on her back.
Ms. Wininger testified at the court hearing, telling of the various attacks on her. But she said, "I don't want him to go to jail."
Judge Statom said if the couple continues to try to contact each other while he is in jail, "I will try to take any action I can to stop it."
She said, "I believe he tried to kill her on that day."