Stephen Michael Place doesn't always get accused of driving while intoxicated, but when he does, he makes sure he gives it a special twist. I mean, why just drive smashed when you can multitask and beat your ex-wife at the same time?
Harlingen police report answering a disturbance call on Saturday morning. A woman had been heard screaming and seen running from a man driving a black car. On arriving in the area, cops found a black BMW crashed into a tree and unoccupied.
Meanwhile, another cop arrived and found Place, 41, walking fast towards the Sunshine Strip, as Highway 77 is known in Harlingen. Once detained, police said Place exhibited signs of drug intoxication -- talking a mile a minute, jerking around like a marionette on a string. Place agreed to perform the drunk dance, and, police said, "he performed poorly."
Place was arrested and taken to jail. Meanwhile, police found the woman they had been summoned to help.
This would be Place's 34-year-old ex-wife. She told police that Place had been beating her in the car while he was driving down the road, punching her in the face and arms severely enough to send her to the hospital. The woman said she tried to jump out of the car while it was moving, but Place leaned over and grabbed her to try to yank her back in.
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Karma struck: that was when Place wrapped the Beemer around the tree. (Or maybe it's just the perils of multitasking: experts agree that we perform better if we limit ourselves to one chore at a time.)
Place has been charged with DWI and assault / family violence. Bonds on the two charges totaled $2,500.
This is not Place's first alleged assault on a family member. In January of 2011, he smiled for his mugshot after he reportedly knocked his 66-year-old dad over a chair on his way out the door of his dad's house. Place was charged with injury to the elderly and possession of a controlled substance in connection to that incident.
Convicted only of the drug charge, Place was sentenced to six months in jail.