SEBRING — Highlands County deputies arrested a Lake Placid man Sunday night who was already awaiting trial for previous similar violent crimes. The Florida man has a long, violent history in Highlands County and the Florida prison system, according to a public report.
“The victim said the suspect came home drunk and began punching the wall,” according to the police report. “He grabbed a kitchen knife and began stabbing the refrigerator and the walls.”
“The victim said he pushed her down and put the kitchen knife to her neck.”
James Lawrence Wilson, 52, was arrested in Sebring for aggravated assault-weapon with deadly weapon without intent to kill and battery by strangulation. Deputies said when they arrived on scene, they could hear active violence within the dwelling.
“I could hear Wilson hitting things inside the trailer,” Deputy Yulier Ortega wrote in a report. “I could also hear him talking to himself.”
Deputies said Wilson pinned the victim down on the floor. The violence allegedly escalated when the victim tried to get up off the floor and defend herself, according to the police report.
“Wilson picked her up by her neck, choking her and pinned her against the wall,” according to the police report. “The victim said she almost blacked out due to the fact she couldn’t breathe.”
The victim told police that while Wilson allegedly terrorized her with a kitchen knife, he made his intentions quite clear.
“I’m going to kill you,” Wilson said according to the arrest report.
Wilson was facing a previous charge for possession of a concealed firearm and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. He was awaiting a pretrial hearing for June 18 — soon before that, he was also arrested for trespassing on an occupied structure. He received an order of probation June 7 for the trespassing charge and then allegedly strangled his victim two days later. He also has a previous charge of child abuse in 2011 whereby he received a three-year prison sentence. He was subsequently released from prison for that charge in 2013, according to a public report from the Florida Department of Corrections.
Police transported Wilson on June 9 to the Highlands County Jail. His current disposition status is pending.
There are more than 600 total domestic violence offenses in Highlands County alone, according to a recent Florida Department of Law Enforcement report. Nearly 2% of those instances involve battery, aggravated assault, and murder. According to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Faces of Fatality report, more should be done to halt an ever present pattern of violence that seems to be emerging. The advocacy group says it wants to ensure that people do more to recognize problems before they start.
“A proactive coordinated community response effort increases the likelihood of successful interventions that enhance safety for survivors and their children,” according to the report. “We must support domestic violence responses that effectively and collectively hold offenders accountable for their violence.”