Ex-deputy gets year in jail for stalking estranged wife
Former Sutter County sheriff's Deputy Michael Slayton was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail and probation for stalking his estranged wife.
The sentence means Slayton, who has been held in the county jail since his Aug. 15 arrest, will serve another 21/2 months, said Sutter County Judge Robert Damron.
Damron promised Slayton, 39, that any violations of the five-year probation will mean a prison sentence.
“I sure as hell don't want to get a call at 2:30 in the morning and find out you've done something stupid,” Damron told Slayton at his sentencing. Slayton was charged with a half-dozen counts of violating restraining orders, battery, and planting recording devices in the house he once shared with his wife of more than 13 years. All but one stalking charge was dropped in a plea agreement.
A probation report recommended three years in prison. But no court in California would likely hand down such a sentence for Slayton, who had no criminal record before the stalking conviction, said Damron.
Slayton vowed to Damron that he will never harm his wife. While in jail, he became a born-again Christian and realized his marriage was over, he said.
“I'll do whatever the court imposes. I'll stay the farthest away from her I can,” he said.
Slayton was a sheriff's deputy for 16 years before he was suspended last spring, then left the department in September. In a probation report, Slayton admitted being fired.
Sheriff's Department officials did not disclose the reason for Slayton's departure, but said it was not related to divorce proceedings with his wife, Elena Slayton, a teacher and administrator with the Yuba City Unified School District.
The proceedings continue in Sutter County Superior Court.
Deputy District Attorney Diana Bermingham asked Damron to include drug searches as part of Slayton's probation, referring to allegations of missing methamphetamine while he was still working as a deputy. Damron declined to order searches but told him not to possess narcotics.
“This is not a narcotics or alcohol case - it's an emotions-gone-wild case,” said Damron.
Damron also ordered Slayton to get rid of his numerous personal guns, including any guns that might be kept at the home of his parents, where he may stay after release. Slayton's father is a retired California Highway Patrol officer.
According to the probation report, Slayton's 10-year-old son asked him, “Dad, where is your M-16?” when Elena Slayton summoned a deputy to their house in July 2005.
Charles Poulos, Elena Slayton's attorney in the divorce case, told Damron she only wants to be sure that she and her children are safe. She did not speak.
“She has a feeling that this will continue,” said Poulos.
Damron ordered Slayton to stay at least 50 feet from Elena Slayton for the entire five years of probation and to have no contact with his three children until undergoing at least six months of psychiatric treatment.
Slayton must see a therapist at least once a week, take psychiatric medication as ordered, and attend classes for batterers.
According to the probation report, Elena Slayton suffered a broken wrist, a cut on her back, and a shoulder injury during scuffles with her husband. She told investigators she did not report the injuries, partly for fear that Slayton would lose his job.
Court-appointed psychologist Deborah Schmidt gave Slayton an examination in jail and said in a report that he has “a mixed personality disorder,” which can cause “anti-social, dependent, self-defeating” and other traits.
Slayton's attorney, Craig Leri, hired a semi-retired psychiatrist, Irwin Lyons, to dispute Schmidt's report. Lyons criticized Schmidt's reporting, calling it “psychobabble name-calling. That's just my opinion.”
Lyons called Slayton “workable,” meaning treatable.
“There are many very effective medications available,” said Lyons.
“No one can read the future for certain. It's my educated guess he can be controlled,” the psychiatrist said.
Damron said Slayton would have served only about a year in prison had he been given a three-year sentence. The parole conditions would not have been as strict as the probation conditions that Slayton will be subject to when released from jail, he said.
Slayton's residence will be subject to searches at any time without a warrant.
“I have total confidence in the Sutter County Probation Department,” said Damron.
About 15 of Slayton's relatives and friends attended the hearing. Damron told Slayton to seek their help instead of stubbornly trying to handle problems by himself.
“You have a number of people who care about you. A lot of people think very highly of you,” said Damron.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.