A Santa Barbara man has been sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading no contest to charges of assault and other crimes for allegedly trapping and beating two women in his downtown home in 2012.
Michael John Stinchfield, 57, entered a no contest plea to four felony offenses, including two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on separate victims, one count of criminal threats, one count of false imprisonment by violence, and a special allegation of personally inflicting great bodily injury on one female victim during an assault in late 2012 at his home on Garden Street.
Santa Barbara police officers were dispatched to Stinchfield’s home in the 1700 block of Garden Street just before 5 a.m. Nov. 2, 2012, to a report of a disturbance in progress.
When they arrived, two women were seen running out of the house, one of whom was screaming, and both had visible injuries, according to police.
The women told officers that Stinchfield attacked them with a bat, held them against their will for several hours and sexually assaulted them, beating both women with a bat and one of them with a guitar strap. Of the four felony offenses Stinchfield pleaded to, three are considered serious or violent strikes under California law.
Stinchfield has been in custody for about 18 months, which will count toward his total sentence.
Stinchfield initially faced special allegations of a hate crime based on sexual orientation, but prosecutor Benjamin Ladinig said the hate crime charge would not have resulted in a strike offense while a great bodily injury enhancement does.
"There were also additional factors or proof and private matters that were considered," he said.
A handful of police officers took the stand last year for Stinchfield's preliminary hearing, and recounted interviews with the women, a neighbor who was home at the time of the incident, and Stinchfield himself.
Sgt. Bryan Jensen testified that he was called to the station the morning of the crime and that he noticed that one of the victims had “some obvious injuries to her face,” and said she had been beaten with a baseball bat 50 to 60 times over the course of four hours at Stinchfield’s home.
Photos were shown of the woman’s face, which was badly swollen and bruised.
Jensen’s testimony revealed that Stinchfield had met one of the women downtown, and had gone out to drinks. The woman and her girlfriend ran into Stinchfield several days later, when he asked if the two women wanted to go to his house “because he had a guitar he wanted to show them,” Jensen said.
Alcohol was consumed back at the home, and the trio eventually ended up in Stinchfield’s hot tub for about 40 minutes before the women decided it was time to leave.
That’s when “it turned into a (expletive) kidnapping rape party,” the woman told Jensen.
As the women were changing in an upstairs bathroom, they told Jensen, Stinchfield burst in with a baseball bat, striking the women dozens of times over two hours.
Stinchfield then allegedly ordered the women into the living room, where he said he would kill them if they didn’t perform sexual acts on him. He ordered the women to touch his genitals, and “they felt like they had to in order to survive,” Jensen said.
Stinchfield also retrieved a kitchen knife and was threatening the women with that weapon as well when the doorbell and the phone rang, both initiated by police. Stinchfield told the women to be quiet as he answered, but the women were able to flee the home.
In a statement on Tuesday, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley commended the Santa Barbara Police Department for its efforts in responding to the crime scene, investigating the incident and obtaining the evidence necessary to prosecute the case, and also acknowledged the local citizen "who bravely called 9-1-1 to report the crime an to prevent additional harm to the victims."