A Tontitown attempted murder suspect accused of shooting at his pregnant girlfriend last year has reached a plea deal with prosecutors for 12 years in prison, according to Washington County Circuit Court records.
Austin Wenger was arrested in August on suspicion of attempted murder, aggravated assault, terroristic threatening, second-degree domestic battery, residential burglary and other felony charges. A plea deal signed by Wenger in December shows the suspect agreed to 12 years in state prison, along with 18 years of a suspended sentence.
An additional charge of witness tampering was added to Wenger’s list of felony allegations after police said he sent a letter from jail pressuring his girlfriend not to testify against him in court. He told her he would support their unborn child if she agreed not to testify against him in the attempted murder case, according to court documents.
“In the letter, Austin told her she needed to not testify against him because he loved her and he was going to ‘go down’ for six months for the parole violation anyway,” a preliminary report from a reporting officer states. “Austin wrote if he wanted to kill her, it would have happened.”
Wenger pleaded not guilty to his original charges in September. He has been held in the Washington County Detention Center without bond since August. He remained in jail this week while awaiting a transfer to state prison.
A court document states Wenger fired three shots at his pregnant girlfriend on Aug. 22 at her residence on the 1500 block of Arbor Acres Avenue in Tontitown. The woman’s 6-month-old baby was in a car seat on the porch when Wenger fired three shots from a car as he left the scene, the affidavit states.
The affidavit states Wenger got into an argument with his girlfriend, Keshia Gregory, that escalated after Gregory told Wenger to leave the residence. Gregory told officers that Wenger grabbed her around the throat and later stepped on her 6-month-old infant’s head when he rushed to prevent her from calling her mother for help, the affidavit states.
Gregory told Wenger her family was on the way to her house and he produced two handguns and placed one against her head and said he was going to kill her, the affidavit said. Gregory said she pleaded with Wenger for her life and that of their unborn baby, and she said Wenger told her, “I’ll kill both of you,” the affidavit said.
At this point, a silver car pulled up in the driveway that Gregory said was driven by Stacie Chicken, the affidavit states. Wenger got behind the wheel, and Gregory said she thought he fired three shots at her as he left the residence, the affidavit states.
Gregory said she was unsure how many shots were fired because she was running to protect her infant who was in a car seat on the front porch, the affidavit states.
Wenger pleaded guilty in February in a shooting from 2012 in which no one was injured. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, terroristic threatening and criminal mischief, receiving a three-year suspended prison sentence, along with credit of 96 days served in jail, according to court documents.
Also on Sept. 25, Trevor Lee of Springdale, accused of being an accomplice of Wenger’s and others in burglaries during August, pleaded not guilty before a magistrate at the Washington County Detention Center. Lee is charged with theft of property, burglary, engaging in continuing gang activity and two counts of possession of firearms.