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Former Seahawks OT Chad Wheeler sentenced for domestic violence attack

Lauren Girgis, The Seattle Times on

Published in Football

SEATTLE — Former Seahawks player Chad Wheeler was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison Friday for the 2021 assault of his then-girlfriend.

Wheeler, a backup offensive tackle for the Seahawks in 2019 and 2020, was arrested the following year in Kent on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend at the time. After his trial was delayed repeatedly due to his defense team’s requests for mental health evaluations, he was found guilty in November of first- and second-degree assault.

The jury found he used force or means likely to result in death. He was found not guilty of unlawful imprisonment.

King County prosecutors recommended Wheeler be sentenced to nine years in prison. Wheeler’s defense attorneys, however, requested a sentence no longer than the mandatory five-year minimum, arguing in a filing that Wheeler “needs mental health treatment … not additional prison time.”

Superior Court Judge Joe Campagna on Friday ordered Wheeler undergo a mental health evaluation and follow any treatment recommendations. Once Wheeler has completed his 6.75-year prison term, with credit for any time he’s already served prior to trial, he will spend three years on the Department of Corrections community supervision.

Though the jury found Wheeler guilty of both first- and second-degree assault, the second-degree assault charge was what’s known as “a lesser included alternative,” filed in the event jurors didn’t find him guilty of the more serious crime. Campagna vacated the second-degree assault charge and sentenced Wheeler only for first-degree assault.

Wheeler, who had posted $400,000 bail and was on electronic home detention with GPS monitoring prior to sentencing, was booked Friday into the Maleng Regional Justice Center pending his transfer to DOC custody.

Wheeler’s former girlfriend testified during his trial that he demanded she “bow down” to him on the day of the January 2021 assault, and he began strangling her after she refused.

She told a 911 dispatcher that night she was “being killed,” exclaimed “ow” several times and begged for help and for police to break down a door to enter her home. Wheeler pushed her into the bathroom and locked the door when police arrived, and it took several officers to detain him, according to court documents.

 

The court documents said the woman lost consciousness “twice from two separate strangulations.” She regained consciousness to find a pool of blood on the bed, she testified, and alleged Wheeler calmly commented, “Oh, you’re still alive?”

The documents also said Wheeler pinned the woman down with his body. Wheeler is 6 feet, 7 inches and weighs over 300 pounds.

The woman was treated at UW Valley Medical Center in Renton, and several health care workers testified about her injuries. The defense claimed Wheeler’s “diminished capacity” at the time caused him to unintentionally and unknowingly harm her.

A defense attorney said during closing arguments that Wheeler and his lawyers weren’t contesting that he strangled his former girlfriend and broke her arm but argued his mental state prevented him from intentionally committing a crime.

After Wheeler was found guilty in November, his defense alleged juror misconduct and motioned for a new trial. The court denied the motion, saying the allegation wasn’t credible.

The Seahawks waived Wheeler shortly after his arrest, and he has not been on an NFL roster since.

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Seattle Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this story.


©2024 The Seattle Times. Visit seattletimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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