COURTHOUSE — A Royersford man who was scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday for choking his pregnant girlfriend in June 2013 had his sentencing hearing deferred to give him a chance to apply for Montgomery County Veterans Treatment Court.
Judge Garrett Page continued sentencing for David Peck, 34, to give him until 12 p.m. on Friday to file an application for veterans court.
Gregory Nester, Peck’s attorney, said he believes if accepted into the program, Peck could benefit from the specialty court.
“In preparation for sentencing we do a number of things. We look at his history, we talk to him, we read the PSI and in doing all of that it created a picture where I believed he would benefit from the treatment that Veterans Court offers,” Nester said after the hearing.
Nester said Peck was generally discharged from the Army and there is information in his pre-sentencing investigation report that made him aware of certain mental health issues. Nester did not comment in court on what in the report made him particularly believe Peck is a good candidate for the Veterans Treatment Court.
Under the program, veterans are connected with community treatment services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs while receiving appropriate dispositions to their criminal charges, including the potential to have charges dismissed.
The program represents a collaboration of officials from the courts, the jail, the district attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, community-based treatment providers and Veterans Affairs.
To be eligible, a veteran must suffer from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma or psychological or substance abuse problems that require treatment and which contributed to their crimes.
Eligible offenders must agree to follow a court-approved treatment plan and routinely meet with probation officials and the judge. When offenders are released from the court or prison system, Veterans Affairs officials are available to assist them. President Judge William Furber presides over the specialty court.
Prosecuting attorney Brianna Ringwood told Judge Page that she strenuously objected to Peck’s application to the court.
“I respect his decision. However, I don’t agree with it. Given the nature of the crime and, as I said, his prior record and my feeling he is not amenable to treatment or rehabilitation,” Ringwood said.
According to online court documents, Peck was sentenced to four to eight years in a state prison for a robbery in Souderton in 2000. Ringwood told the court that she believed he is likely to re-offend.
Nester, who said he does not believe Peck is likely to re-offend, said that any risk of Peck breaking the law in the future would be “dramatically diminished” if he is accepted into Veterans Court and goes through the program.
Ringwood said the victim and her family were also opposed to Peck’s application. The victim left court before the two attorneys made arguments on the record.
If Peck is not accepted into the program, he will be back in front of Judge Page for a sentencing hearing that could result in jail time. Ringwood said the sentencing guidelines call for six to 12 months in prison.
Peck was convicted of simple assault, recklessly endangering a person and harassment charges in March in connection with an incident in June 2013 in which he choked his pregnant girlfriend during a domestic fight.
The report states the victim was packing her clothes to leave when Peck came up behind her and placed her in a headlock. When police initially interviewed Peck, he said he got into a fight with the victim and put her in a headlock and then put his hands around her neck.
Carl Hessler Jr. contributed to this report.