BUCKHANNON — A wanted man was finally captured on multiple outstanding warrants after he tried to run from police Tuesday evening. Michael Ray Fitzwater, age 30, stands accused of fleeing from an officer on foot, in addition to charges of strangulation, domestic battery – third offense, three counts of domestic assault – third offense, and malicious assault, all stemming from a series of prior domestic incidents with his wife.
On Tuesday evening, Deputy J. Barcus responded to a call of a suspicious person on a four-wheeler pulling a trailer on private property located at Three Lick Road in Buckhannon. Before the officer could exit his patrol vehicle, the man reportedly began to flee on foot, proceeding down an embankment and through a corn field. Barcus pursued the man who was later identified as Fitzwater and said the came to a halt after a short distance and laid down on the ground with his hands behind his back. The accused was arrested for fleeing from the Deputy and detained on numerous warrants that had been issued by Magistrate Hurst on August 14.
Fitzwater has two prior convictions of domestic battery with conviction dates of Sept. 24, 2001 in Gilmer County and Nov. 9, 2015 in Randolph County, according to the criminal complaint.
The first charge of third-degree domestic assault he was detained for allegedly occurred on Feb. 4, 2019, when Fitzwater came home and “destroyed the house.” According to court documents he threw a glass mason jar full of moonshine at the victim’s head, which shattered all over her. After begging awhile for medical attention, the defendant finally took her to the hospital, but the report said he threatened to kill her on the way by driving her into the river or into a telephone pole.
The next incident Fitzwater had warrants for occurred on March 4, 2019, according to the report. He allegedly came home drunk or impaired and the victim said she pretended to be sleeping in hopes of avoiding a fight. The criminal complaint stated he broke a back massager that was on a nearby dresser and threw multiple metal balls from inside the massager at the victim, then got on top of her on their bed and restrained her. “The defendant began choking the victim with his left hand and attempting to shove the metal ball down her throat with the other, making it hard to breathe,” the report alleged. The victim told the officer she believed she was going to die and sustained a busted lip and several marks on her neck from the attack.
In Nov. 2019, Fitzwater allegedly attacked his wife again, shoving her to the ground and holding a flashlight above his head intending to strike her, but another woman intervened and ordered him to leave.
Magistrate Coffman arraigned Fitzwater on Wednesday and set a combined bail totaling $175,000 plus LET fees. If convicted, Fitzwater faces 1-5 years and/or a fine of not more than $2,500 on each of four counts, plus an additional sentence of 1-5 years and fine up to $500 for malicious assault, as well as confinement in jail not more than a year and fine up to $500 for fleeing on foot.