Waukesha man accused of suffocating ex-girlfriend twice during dispute

Published on: 7/22/2014

A 23-year-old Waukesha man, an alleged drug addict, choked his ex-girlfriend into unconsciousness during an argument over some food, a criminal complaint says.

Anthony Panella, 2905 Buckingham Court, was charged Friday, July 11, in Waukesha County Circuit Court with strangulation, disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia.

If convicted, Panella could faces up to almost 61/2 years in prison and $11,500 in fines.

According to the criminal complaint, Waukesha police responded to an apartment complex off Springdale Road in the afternoon of Thursday, July 10, for a call about a domestic disturbance.

The victim, Panella's former girlfriend, told the officers that she and Panella had broken up and were arguing about various items that the victim thought Panella had stolen from her and her roommate while living rent-free at their apartment.

She said in the complaint that she thinks Panella was stealing from her to support a drug addiction.

The confrontation escalated to physical violence after Panella tried to remove a large quantity of food from the victim's refrigerator, despite protests from his ex-girlfriend, who flung the refrigerator door at him, according to the complaint.

Panella dropped whatever food he was holding and grabbed the victim around her neck, choking her for about 10 seconds, the complaint states.

The complainant broke free, but Panella came at her again and strangled her until she passed out, according to the complaint. When she awoke, the victim crawled out of her apartment and knocked on a neighbor's door for help, but no one answered.

Panella told police in the complaint that he put his ex-girlfriend in a choke hold to prevent her from hitting him during the argument, and that he was experiencing withdrawal when he began vomiting while being held at the Waukesha Police Department.

Officers recovered 48 used syringes, two cookers and two tourniquets and some additional items from a search of Panella's backpack, all identified as drug paraphernalia, the complaint said.

According to court records, Panella is being held at the county jail on a $1,500 signature bond and $500 cash bond.

Panella's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, July 31.