A man accused of strangling a woman in a dispute over a cellphone has a previous conviction involving another phone dispute, according to court records.
Edmund Leo Nungaray, 59, is charged with strangling his neighbor, Deirdre Crowley, 46, of San Luis Obispo, because he believed Crowley had his cellphone.
Nungaray, whose Superior Court arraignment was continued Wednesday, has not yet entered a plea.
In September 2002, Nungaray was convicted of misdemeanor battery in another dispute over a phone.
According to court records, Nungaray admitted to losing his temper and shoving a 15-year-old niece during that incident. Nungaray told police he wanted the niece to help her grandmother move. But when he found her talking on a phone, he became angry.
According to police reports, Nungaray demanded the phone from his niece, but she would not give it to him. As the dispute continued, the niece called 911, but Nungaray snatched the phone from her and shoved her, shouting, “You better get the police here because I’m going to kick your ass.”
The girl had red marks on her chest and arm from Nungaray grabbing and shoving her.
In the more recent case, Nungaray allegedly told police he gave his phone to Crowley so she could help him set up his voice mail. But, he said, she wouldn’t return the phone, making him mad.
On Sept. 29, Nungaray and Crowley, who lived in the Bullock Garden Apartments near Broad Street, argued about the phone three different times, with police getting called on each occasion.
The third time, Kimberly Bedel, who lives in the Oceanaire Mobile Home Park across from the apartment complex, overheard them as she stepped outside late at night to smoke a cigarette.
“It was just her screaming, ‘Help me!’ and him screaming, ‘I’ll choke you out!’ ” Bedel told The
Tribune. “And then her screaming stopped when I was talking to police.”
Bedel said she knew from Crowley’s tone of voice that something bad was happening, which prompted her to dial 911.
From across the parking lot, Bedel watched as police arrived five minutes later and positioned themselves near a staircase, one floor below Nungaray’s and Crowley’s apartments. She saw Nungaray leave Crowley’s apartment, then enter his own apartment a few feet away. Then she saw Nungaray exit his apartment and return to Crowley’s.
That’s when police climbed the stairs and knocked on Crowley’s door. Nungaray, sweating, opened the door and allegedly admitted to choking Crowley, who lay unconscious on a couch in her apartment.
Police had Nungaray get on his knees outside the apartment, Bedel said, as they arrested him.
“He didn’t put up a fight,” said Bedel, who witnessed the scene from across a small parking lot that separates the apartments from the mobile home park.
Bedel said Nungaray used to yell at her out his window if he thought she was being too loud.
“He was kind of a creepy guy to me,” she said.
She and her boyfriend had spoken with Crowley on multiple occasions.
“She was an interesting person,” Bedel said, describing Crowley as nice and a little eccentric. “She kind of stuck to herself.”
During their second visit on Sept. 29, police advised Crowley to stay in her apartment and not interact with Nungaray again. Several hours later, after many of her neighbors had gone to sleep, Crowley and Nungaray argued a third time.
After getting choked unconscious, Crowley lapsed into a coma. Several days later, she was removed from life support.