Casper Police Arrest Couple for Fighting, Injuring Child
A man and woman were arrested Friday night after allegedly fighting in a motel room and endangering a child.
James Chelski, 38, was booked on a child endangerment charge, while 34-year-old Jennifer Knackstedt was arrested for child endangerment as well as domestic battery.
Charging papers say Casper police responded to the Sand and Sage Motel regarding a family fight shortly before 10 p.m. Knackstedt, who had reported the incident, said she had been assaulted and barricaded herself in the bathroom.
Officers responded and Chelski exited the room to speak with police. Chelski was reportedly visibly intoxicated, and admitted to drinking quite a bit of alcohol that night.
Chelski said Knackstedt had been drinking as well, and they had argued most of the evening. He could not remember the subject of the argument. Three children were in the motel room when the argument became "quite heated," according to Chelski's statement as contained in the affidavit.
Chelski said he had enough of the fighting and went into the bathroom to smoke a cigarette. One of the children entered the bathroom with Chelski and the two were watching something on a table when Knackstedt allegedly burst into the bathroom, "violently" forcing the door open and knocking the child down with the door.
Knackstedt then allegedly started swinging her fists at Chelski, but didn't hit him. He grabbed a hold of her arms and pushed her out of the room.
Chelski told police that Knackstedt had continued trying to punch him, but he was able to avoid her strikes. The argument and shoving match continued for awhile, and eventually Knackstedt said she was going to have Chelski arrested. She then went into the bathroom to call law enforcement.
Chelski told officers he didn't want Knackstedt to be in any trouble and the family was trying to return to Ohio. He said they fight quite a bit, but it gets out of hand when Knackstedt drinks. Chelski also said police have responded to his residences several times relating to family fights in the past.
Knackstedt, who police say was also visibly intoxicated, said she and Chelski had been arguing for most of the evening. She claimed Chelski was rude to one of the children, and Knackstedt started with arguing with Chelski about him not being hostile with her.
Knackstedt told police she went into the bathroom to smoke a cigarette, and that it was Chelski who barged into the room. She claimed Chelski pulled her out of the room, threw her on the bed and started choking her.
Knackstedt reportedly couldn't elaborate on details, and said she couldn't remember much else. Police noted no signs of injury to Knackstedt, and no reddening or abrasions were on or around her neck.
A child, who police spoke with after getting Knackstedt's permission, told officers that she did not like "picking sides," and didn't know why Knackstedt lies.
The child "immediately" told police that Knackstedt doesn't handle alcohol well and gets out of control when she drinks. The child said Chelski and Knackstedt had argued most of the night, "as usual," but the fighting was worse than it typically had been.
At one point, when Chelski and Knackstedt were in the back of the room, the child heard a loud bang, then heard another child start crying. When Chelski and Knackstedt came out of the room, Knackstedt was swing her fists at Chelski.
Chelski was pushing Knackstedt around and shoved to her to the floor, the child told police, before shoving her onto the bed.
The child initially said Chelski was choking Knackstedt, but when an officer asked the child more specifically about what she had seen,, the child said it wasn't really choking, but shoving.
Police determined that Chelski was too intoxicated to care for the children and had willingly participated in the altercation, so police arrested him.
Knackstedt's breath sample showed a blood-alcohol content of .19, which would have been over twice the legal limit to drive. Police questioned Knackstedt about "contradicting information," and questioned her honesty -- specifically, regarding how the child had come to be injured.
Knackstedt maintained her version of events, saying she had been attacked without provocation. She also started questioning the child who spoke with police about how the other child had been injured, inferring that the other child had been injured while jumping on the bed.
Police arrested Knackstedt for her involvement in the fight, as well as "her actions that resulted with the child being injured in conjunction with her intoxication level," the affidavit reads.
Police say the child who had been injured was "running around the room and did not seem to be severely injured."
A Wyoming Department of Family Services agent took custody of the children.
Chelski reportedly refused to cooperate further in relation to the domestic violence aspect of the police investigation.