Woman testifies fiance choked her

WAILUKU – With a woman testifying that her fiance grabbed her by the neck and told her she was going to die in a Kaanapali hotel room, a judge ruled Friday there was enough evidence to support felony abuse and threatening charges against a California man.

Christopher Coggin, 51, is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Maui Community Correctional Center. He is charged with felony abuse by strangulation of a household member and first-degree terroristic threatening.

During a preliminary hearing Friday, Deborah Shipley said that she and Coggin were in a room at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel on Tuesday afternoon when she told him he needed to call his lawyer. When he wouldn’t call, she did but Coggin refused to talk to the lawyer, she said.

She hung up the phone and went to the hotel safe to get her purse so she could leave when Coggin “came up behind me and grabbed me by the neck and said I was dead,” Shipley testified.

She said Coggin said her life was over “and started choking me.”

“I felt like I was passing out,” she said. “I don’t know if I did pass out, but I was on the ground. Then he was on top of me.”

She said Coggin tried to poke her eyes and “said he was going to get my trachea.”

“He told me I was dead, my life was over,” she said.

She said she would scream when she could get free from his hand covering her mouth.

Asked by Deputy Prosecutor Kerry Glen how long the incident lasted, Shipley said, “It felt like forever, but it was probably five or six minutes.”

She said she managed to get away from Coggin when someone knocked on the hotel room door. “He froze,” Shipley said. “I instantly got up and opened the door.”

The man at the door told Shipley to get out of the room, and she had to sit down once outside, she said.

Shipley said Coggin had threatened her three or four times. “He kept telling me, ‘You’re going to die, you’re going to die,’ ” she said. “I thought I was dead. Had that guy not come, I would have been dead.”

Shipley said she suffered pain and injuries to her elbows, leg, eyes, neck and chest.

Shipley had been on Maui vacationing with Coggin when he was arrested last month for allegedly using a bodyboard to assault a police officer responding to a domestic dispute at Kaanapali Shores. She had gone back to California but said she returned to Maui to help him, paying for his attorney and the hotel room after Coggin was released from jail on supervision Jan. 3.

The night before the latest incident, the couple had gotten into an argument over his driving, Shipley said. She said Coggin had been drinking beer and was drunk that morning.

She had left a Whalers Village restaurant where he had been drinking to return to the hotel before he also returned to the room.

Although a bail study recommended that Coggin be released on supervision, Glen said that he had been free on supervision in his earlier assault case when he was arrested Tuesday. Glen said that Coggin wouldn’t be allowed to return to Shipley’s residence in Washington, Calif.

Deputy Public Defender Greg Ball said Coggin would be willing to turn over his identification so he couldn’t leave Maui if released on supervision.

District Judge Blaine Kobayashi said that Coggin has no verified residence on Maui or verified employment and noted he had been released on supervision in another case involving allegations of violence when he was arrested last week.

Kobayashi ordered that Coggin’s bail remain at $20,000. “The court believes that the defendant poses a danger to our community and poses a flight risk,” the judge said.

Coggin is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 24 in 2nd Circuit Court.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.