MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — A Lawrence County judge decided Monday that there was probable cause for a Pierce City man to stand trial on felony domestic assault charges involving his girlfriend and their 11-month-old baby.

Associate Judge Scott Sifferman ordered Timothy A. Preston, 22, to be tried on charges of first-degree domestic assault and first-degree child endangerment after a preliminary hearing in Lawrence County Circuit Court. The judge set Preston's initial appearance in a trial division of the court for Nov. 12.

Preston is accused of assaulting his 20-year-old girlfriend March 1 at the Aurora Inn in Aurora, where they had stayed overnight with their child.

A probable-cause affidavit states that Preston began yelling at her shortly after waking up the next morning, demanding that she provide him the password to her phone to enable him to "go through it." When she refused, he purportedly told her that she would not be leaving the motel room alive.

She started to scream and he placed his hand over her mouth and nose and then began choking her with both hands to the point she lost consciousness, according to the affidavit. She told police that when she regained consciousness, her entire body was shaking and she could not move.

Eventually, she got to her feet and had their baby in her arms when Preston allegedly began hitting her with an open hand and choking her a second time, causing her to drop the child. The affidavit does not state what injuries, if any, the child suffered.

The defendant was charged a month later with violating a protection order issued in the case and again in May with threatening his probation officer over the phone. Those charges remain pending with the court.

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