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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Dunnellon man with prior battery convictions jailed after being accused of choking girlfriend

A 40-year-old Dunnellon man with several prior battery convictions was arrested after being accused of choking his girlfriend during an argument over messages that were found on his cellphone.

On Friday, May 20, a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy received a call for service from Marion County Fire Rescue which stated that a female victim had arrived at the fire station to report a domestic disturbance.

Upon arrival at the fire station, the deputy made contact with the female victim who advised that she had gotten into a physical altercation with her boyfriend, Thomas Ryan Depalma.

Thomas Ryan Depalma
Thomas Ryan Depalma

According to the victim, she had discovered back-and-forth messages on Depalma’s cellphone between him and another woman. Depalma was sleeping, and she stated that she woke him up and confronted him about the messages.

The victim told the deputy that Depalma “woke up in a rage” and began throwing items around the bedroom. When she left the bedroom and attempted to contact law enforcement, Depalma grabbed her cellphone and threw it on the floor.

The victim alleged that Depalma proceeded to push her on the floor, sat on top of her, and grabbed her throat with one hand while his other hand covered her mouth. For approximately 20 seconds, the victim stated that she was unable to breathe.

Depalma walked out of the bedroom, closed the door, and allegedly held it shut from the other side to prevent the victim from leaving. Eventually, the victim stated that Depalma let go of the door, and she ran to her vehicle and climbed inside.

As the victim was leaving the driveway in her vehicle, she advised that Depalma was pounding on her vehicle and throwing items in the driveway.

The MCSO report indicated that the victim had a cut on her right arm and a red mark on her nose. The red mark, according to the victim, was caused when Depalma covered her mouth while he was allegedly choking her.

The deputy responded to the residence where the incident occurred and made contact with Depalma. He agreed to an interview and advised the deputy that he woke up to the victim yelling at him regarding messages that were found on his cellphone.

Depalma admitted that he lost his temper and started destroying items within the residence. He located the victim’s cellphone and showed the deputy that it was no longer working. The MCSO report indicated that Depalma threw the victim’s cellphone against the concrete garage floor while in front of the deputy, which caused further damage to it.

During the interview, Depalma denied hitting the victim.

A criminal history search of Depalma revealed that he had three prior guilty convictions for battery in Lake County.

The deputy noted in the report that Depalma made several “concerning comments” about how he hopes he never sees the victim in traffic and how he is going to show up at her place of work. While the deputy noted that Depalma did not make any direct threats towards the victim, he did state that he would “get five to ten years” for whatever he was going to do.

Depalma was arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and he was later released on $15,000 bond. He is facing felony charges for domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment of an adult, and hindering, delaying, or preventing the communication to a law enforcement officer.

A court date has been scheduled on Tuesday, June 21 at 9 a.m., according to jail records.