A Gloucester man with a history of domestic abuse allegations reaching as far back as his teenage years was sent to state prison Thursday after pleading guilty to his latest set of charges.
Scott R. Freitas, 40, "is essentially doing life on the installment plan," Salem Superior Court Judge James Lang said during a sentencing hearing where he accepted a plea agreement.
Freitas was sentenced to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of probation, for the Nov. 1, 2018, beating and strangulation of his girlfriend. The attack was partially witnessed by a passing driver, who called 911.
Prosecutor Karen Hopwood told the judge that a woman driving on Eastern Avenue in Gloucester around 10 that evening saw what looked like a man and a woman fighting on the sidewalk.
As she passed the pair she glanced in her rear-view mirror and saw the man, later identified as Freitas, punch the woman in the stomach. She turned around, then called 911 as she watched Freitas repeatedly punch the woman in the head.
The woman told police that she saw the man follow the woman into a home on Eastern Avenue. As officers pulled up, a sweating and drug-impaired Freitas ran back outside, telling officers the bleeding injuries on his legs were the result of his job as a landscaper.
Inside the apartment, they found the woman, who had marks and bruises on her neck, face and arms. She told police that after she got inside the house, Freitas kicked in the door, slammed her head into a wall, threw her down a flight of stairs and then kneeled on her throat until she couldn't breathe.
He let up only when she managed to grab a pair of scissors and stab him in the leg, Hopwood told the judge.
Freitas was hallucinating at the time and had used heroin, cocaine and marijuana, police were told.
Hopwood said the victim had not been cooperative with prosecutors, leading to plea negotiations that resulted in Thursday's agreement.
Under the agreement, accepted by Lang, Freitas pleaded guilty to strangulation or suffocation, two counts of domestic assault and battery (subsequent offense), and wanton destruction of property.
Freitas has previously served prison time, the judge noted.
His attorney, Nicholas Morris, did not make any comment about the case in court, only urging the judge to accept the agreement in the case.
Lang also ordered Freitas to stay away from the victim and the witness while on probation, take part in a domestic abuse awareness program and submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
Freitas's history of violence dates back to his teenage years, including allegations of assaults on classmates and a girlfriend (who later declined to testify against him, leading to the case being dismissed), according to The Gloucester Daily Times archives.
In 2004, he was sentenced by another Salem Superior Court judge to two to three years in state prison for a weeks-long spate of abuse on a girlfriend at the time, including trying to strangle her after she refused to give him money for drugs, The Salem News reported at the time.
In 2015, he received an 18-month jail sentence after pleading guilty in Gloucester District Court to domestic assault and strangulation charges.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.