Port Angeles man sentenced in federal court to 5 years in prison for domestic assault

TACOMA — An enrolled member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to five years in prison for domestic assault by a habitual offender.

Matthew Tyler Charles, 31, of Port Angeles pleaded guilty in March 2018, following one day of testimony about his history of assaults on an intimate partner.

Charles was indicted following the Oct. 21, 2017, assault of a woman with whom he had a long-term relationship. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said Charles “has to pay for what he has done, the havoc he perpetrated in this community,” according to the Department of Justice.

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, in the early morning hours of Oct. 21, 2017, the victim arrived at the Lower Elwha Casino. Shortly after her car pulled into the parking lot, the surveillance video shows Charles arriving in another vehicle.

The video shows Charles assaulting the victim, violently shoving her back into the car and physically restraining her when she tried to flee. At one point during the incident, Charles brandished a knife. Two witnesses who were in the parking lot alerted casino security. Charles left the scene, but was later taken into custody.

“This defendant repeatedly and viciously attacked those he professed to care most about,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Haye in a prepared statement. “And when law enforcement stepped in, the defendant tried to pressure the victim to stop co-operating with investigators and prosecutors. But the victim persevered and today justice is served. We will continue to use all available tools to protect the victims of crime in our tribal communities.”

Court records said Charles made seven calls to the victim using another inmate’s account in an attempt to avoid detection by prosecutors.

In these recorded calls Charles repeatedly attempted to persuade the victim not to show up and testify at the trial.

He professed his love for her and told her that if no one testified against him at his trial then it would be difficult for the government to prove its case, records said.

Charles has four previous convictions related to domestic violence in either state or tribal court.

Two of these convictions arose from assaults in 2006 and 2014 involving the same victim that were prosecuted in Clallam County District Court and Superior Court, respectively.

He also has two convictions in Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal court for 2004 and 2010 assaults involving this victim and another victim. Those convictions subject him to prosecution in federal court as a habitual offender.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebecca S. Cohen and J. Tate London.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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