SENECA - Tov L. Balentine, 34, appeared in Crawford County Circuit Court on Monday, Nov. 26 to face six charges that resulted from incidents that allegedly occurred during the last week of October at a West Avenue residence in the Town of Seneca.
Among those charges are two felony counts and four misdemeanors. Balentine faces felony charges for strangulation and suffocation, as well as false imprisonment for an incident that allegedly occurred on Friday Oct. 26. Both charges are Class H Felonies and if convicted of either charge, the defendant could face a sentence of up to six years of imprisonment or a fine of up to $10,000 or both.
In addition to the two felony charges, Balentine is also charged with misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor bail jumping as result of the October 26 incident. If convicted of either of the Class A Misdemeanors, the defendant could face up to nine months of imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000 or both.
Balentine also faces misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor bail jumping charges for an incident that occurred Wednesday, Oct. 31 at the West Avenue residence of Mark Roberts. Both men were arrested at the residence on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
Peterson was charged with one count of disorderly conduct and that was reduced to an ordinance violation in the court system.
On October 31, Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Ryan Fraddette was dispatched to the residence at 326 West Avenue, according to the criminal complaint. He arrived on the scene to find both Mark Roberts and Tov Balentine under arrest. The victim, Leslie Decorah, was transported by ambulance to Crossing Rivers Hospital in Prairie du Chien.
Fradette met with Decorah in the emergency room and she agreed to speak with him, the criminal complaint states.
Decorah told the investigating officer that she and Balentine had dated on and off for about four years, according to the criminal complaint. She also stated they had broke up in June. Around August, Balentine allegedly got in touch with Decorah and said he was staying at a place near Prairie du Chien.
Decorah told Fradette that Balentine and Roberts came to pick her up and she had been staying at 327 West Avenue with them since September.
Decorah also told Fradette that since she’s been back with Balentine he had changed and become more aggressive and paranoid, according to the criminal complaint. She also told the investigating officer that he carries a knife with him often and threatens people.
Balentine did not allow Roberts to talk with Decorah and she said Roberts had ignored her for months, according to the criminal complaint. Decorah also stated that Balentine refers to himself as God and Lucifer, which is something he never did previously.
Decorah stated that on Friday, Oct. 26, the three of them arrived back at the West Avenue residence and parked in the driveway. As she attempted to climb out of the van Balentine punched her in the left eye with his closed fist. In addition to causing her pain the punch broke her glasses.
Decorah stated they went inside the house and upstairs in a bedroom Balentine became more aggressive.
Decorah said that he had her down and began strangling her with his hands, according to the criminal complaint. She stated that she thought she was gong to pass out. Decorah said she continued to punch at him and tell him to get off of her.
Decorah attempted to hit the floor hard so Roberts would come and stop Balentine, but Roberts never came, according to the criminal complaint. Balentine eventually stopped and Decorah said she feared for her safety if she left, so she went to sleep.
On the morning of October 31, Decorah said Balentine wanted her phone to gain the use of her hotspot, but she was waiting for a phone call and refused. Balentine became aggressive and told her to leave, but he also told her she had to leave her property at the residence, according to her statements quoted in the criminal complaint.
Decorah began to try to leave and Balentine threw her back down on the bed and told her she was not leaving. She stated that she opened the window at that point hoping someone would hear her. She was not allowed to go down the stairs.
At one point, Balentine removed a long knife from a sleeve and pointed at Decorah telling her she could not leave. Decorah said she feared for her safety, according to the criminal complaint. Balentine backhanded her with the back of his hand connecting with her right cheek causing her pain.
Decorah was eventually cleared medically at the Crossing Rivers Hospital. She was given a voucher for a hotel room until her family could come and pick her.
Fradette reviewed a copy of the bail bond in the case against Balentine in Sauk County Court. In that case, Balentine is charged with battery and disorderly conduct as a repeater with Leslie Decorah as the victim. As a condition of bond he is to have no violent/abusive contact with Decorah and is not to commit other crimes.
In Crawford County Circuit Court on Monday, Nov. 26, Tov Balentine made a brief adjourned initial appearance with his attorney Zachary Leigh. At his appearance on Friday, Nov.16 Leigh was appointed as his attorney and it was agreed and adjourned initial appearance could be scheduled for November 26.
In his most recent appearance, Balentine appeared on a video screen from a room in the county jail wearing his orange prison scrubs.
As Crawford County Circuit Judge Lynn Rider began asking Balentine's attorney how his client would plead to each charge. Leigh answered not guilty to the first charge and to the second charge. As Rider began to ask how Balentine would plead to the third charge, Leigh stopped her and informed her his defendant was pleading not guilty to all of the charges.
As Rider began to discuss the need for a preliminary hearing and the scheduling of it, Balentine spoke up.
“I want to speak on behalf of myself,” Balentine said.
“I would prefer you did not,” his attorney said quickly in response
“Well, I prefer I get my bond reduced,” Balentine retorted. “I prefer to make a statement.
“We don’t always get what we prefer,” Balentine continued. “I prefer justice.”
At that point, Rider interceded and set the date and time for the preliminary hearing as 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3 and Leigh confirmed he had no conflicts for that date on his calendar.
“I encourage you to talk with Mr. Leigh about a bond modification,” Rider told Balentine.
The judge explained that a request for bond modification needed to come through his attorney.
Balentine is being held in jail with a $1,000 cash bond that was set at a bond hearing on November 12.
As the short hearing drew to a close, Balentine got the last word. From the video screen in the courtroom, he was heard to say danke schoen or thank you in German.
The arrest of Mark Roberts and Tov Balentine drew quite a bit of attention in the small community of Seneca.
In a description of the arrest of Roberts, an arriving officer describes the scene in a police report that is part of the court record.
“On Wednesday, Oct. 31 at approximately 1:15 p.m., the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to 327 West Avenue in the Township of Seneca for a 911 hang-up call that sounded like a domestic violence situation,” the officer writes in the report.
“While trying to make contact, members of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department ordered the defendant (Mark Roberts) at gunpoint to come to the ground and lay on the ground,” the report states. “The defendant was following commands and was yelling (an obscenity), shoot me, kill me and continued to yell.
“The defendant was escorted to the ground and was placed in handcuffs,” according to the report. “The defendant’s yelling caused members of the community to come out and see what the yelling was about.”
The court found there was probable cause to bring the charge of disorderly conduct against Mark Roberts, but ultimately it was dropped to a ordinance violation and a fine was paid.