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La Crosse man charged with strangulation, previously served time for assault and killing a cat
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La Crosse man charged with strangulation, previously served time for assault and killing a cat

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A La Crosse man with a history of assault and animal abuse was charged Tuesday with punching and strangling his girlfriend.

Phillip D. Atkinson, 32, appeared via Zoom in La Crosse County Circuit Court on charges of strangulation and suffocation, stalking, felony intimidation of a victim, misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct, all stemming from an April 23 incident.

On April 24, the victim informed the La Crosse Police Department that Atkinson had “punched her twice in the face, strangled her to the point where she could not breathe, and threatened to kill her and her kids several times,” according to the criminal complaint. Officers observed she had redness and swelling on her forehead, cheeks and neck, and abrasions on her wrist.

The victim stated she was at the residence of Atkinson and his mother and the two had a confrontation. After an hour of arguing, Atkinson punched the victim and asked, “You want to die?” according to the complaint. Atkinson then approached the victim, who was sitting on a bed, and placed her in a chokehold.

When Atkinson’s mother entered the room, he pulled the victim to a spare bedroom and punched her a second time, according to the complaint. Atkinson’s mother offered to take the victim on a drive so that “everyone could calm down,” and obliged the victim’s request to be taken to the Holmen Police Department. She met with La Crosse officers the next day.

The victim told officers Atkinson had previously been violent with her, and had started stalking her by tracking her phone in December 2019. On Dec. 31, he punched and strangled her, she told police, adding there were at least five such incidents, none of which she had reported.

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The victim stated that Atkinson had previously told her, “I don’t care if I do two or five years in prison. If I can’t get to you I’ll make sure someone can.”

Atkinson, who denied a physical altercation, was taken to La Crosse County Jail April 24 and given $10,000 cash bond, which Judge Ramona Gonzalez converted to a signature bond with the conditions he stay out of the village of Holmen and leave his residence only for work.

Atkinson told Gonzalez Friday he needed to be released to support himself and his mother, and acknowledged his criminal past, saying he “had a very successful life until very recently.”

Atkinson previously served 115 days in jail and four years on probation after a March 2010 sentencing for punching a woman repeatedly and killing her cat in December 2008. Later that month he struck a second woman in the face, pushed her down on a sidewalk, pulled her by the hair and struck her several more times, breaking three of her teeth.

Atkinson’s preliminary hearing for the April 23 case is scheduled for May 18.

Emily Pyrek can be reached at


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