SUPERIOR COURT — A Sussex Borough man accused of restraining and choking his former girlfriend before fleeing the scene with a knife, leading to a large police presence Sunday morning, has been ordered by a judge to stay in jail.

State Police and assisting departments responded around 8:30 a.m. Sunday to the Loomis Avenue home of 27-year-old Dominic Garrera after his former girlfriend called to report he had assaulted her by hitting and choking her.

Garrera appeared in front of Judge Louis S. Sceusi Thursday after Assistant Prosecutor Sahil Kabse filed a motion to detain Garrera pending the resolution of his case. Sceusi heard evidence compiled by the State and arguments from Garrera's attorney, Daniel Palazzo, who sought his client's release.

Sceusi raised concerns about the “violent incident,” stating that he believed Kabse presented clear and convincing evidence that Garrera is a danger to himself, the victim and the community.

In addition, Sceusi said that not only was the incident violent, but Garrera prevented the victim from trying to get help and then fled the scene when she was able to dial 911. Garrera also admitted the assault to police, according to Sceusi.

Details of the incident unfolded in court and in an affidavit of probable cause and complaint warrant from his arrest as follows:

Garrera, who resides in a home across from the Sussex Wantage Regional School, had broken up with his girlfriend two weeks prior to Sunday's incident, according to Palazzo. She was at his house at the time of the incident.

While inside the home, the duo got into an argument and he “restrained the victim by sitting on top of her and holding her arms and throat down,” police said. Kabse stated in court that Garrera also placed his hands over the victim's face to stop her from screaming and choked her by putting his hands around her neck.

The victim was eventually able to dial 911, and as she did so, Garrera fled the scene.

State police arrived in eight minutes and observed signs that the victim had been strangled, including bloodshot eyes, blood from Garrera on her, scratches, redness around the neck and bruising to the throat area. Police also suspected the victim had a concussion.

As medical crews cared for the victim, police called for assistance from other departments to search for Garrera. Garrera could not be contacted via cell phone and had fled with a knife, police said.

Utilizing a helicopter and K9 unit, authorities believed that Garrera was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol and had expressed a desire to injure himself and exhibited “suicidal behavior” when confronted by police, Kabse stated in court.

Garrera was found in the vicinity about three hours later and taken into custody. The affidavit of arrest indicates he had fled to his brother's home, but it was not stated where his brother lives.

Kabse stated in court that of great concern was the history of domestic violence by Garrera and the victim, with Garrera having been arrested three times prior for charges including assault, criminal restraint, harassment and terroristic threats. Those charges had all been dismissed — the latest being in May 2019 — but Kabse said it indicated a “pattern of violence” that "clearly seems to have no end when there is no involvement by law enforcement.“

Palazzo, in response, stated that the victim had, in the past, filed for several temporary restraining orders against Garrera but had withdrawn them, showing the victim had shown “her own pattern of abusing the system” by filing “false reports.”

Palazzo also indicated that the fight between Garrera and the victim had been “mutual” and Garrera had asked the victim to leave his house, and she refused. In response, Kabse called his depiction of the incident “blatantly untrue,” stating that Garrera was charged with criminal restraint, meaning he had actually prevented her from leaving the house.

Kabse said it was believed the victim has obtained a temporary restraining order as of Monday and was proceeding to obtain a final restraining order against Garrera this week.

Garrera was on the pretrial intervention program at the time of his arrest Sunday for a fourth-degree cruelty to animal charge. He is facing charges of third-degree aggravated assault, relating to strangulation, third-degree criminal restraint and fourth-degree obstruction of justice.

Sceusi has also ordered Garrera undergo a court-ordered substance abuse and mental health evaluation. He indicated that he would be willing to “consider potential release” depending on the results of the tests.

If convicted on all charges, Garrera faces up to 11 ½ years in state prison.

He is expected to appear back in court on March 30.

Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.