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A man was sentenced to prison last week for a domestic battery incident that resulted in the victim falling from a moving vehicle.

Dustin L. Rowland, 32, of El Dorado was sentenced to two years in prison last Thursday after making a plea agreement lessening his potential sentence. He originally faced between six and 30 years in prison.

According to court records, last September, Rowland was traveling on Southfield Road with a woman and child while arguing with the woman. The Union County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of an accident with injuries.

Rowland told a deputy with the UCSO the woman rolled her window down, causing the vehicle door to unlatch; at that point, he said he slammed on the brakes, accidentally causing her to fall out of the vehicle.

A witness told deputies she was alerted to the accident when she heard tires screeching and a loud thump. She said she went to find out what happened when she saw Rowland attempting to get the woman back into the vehicle.

The witness told deputies she heard Rowland apologizing and asking for the woman’s forgiveness. She said she then heard a child crying inside the vehicle; she took the child from the vehicle and waited for police with them in a nearby parking lot.

She told deputies the child said Rowland and the woman were arguing before he pushed her out of the vehicle.

Two days later, deputies were able to interview the woman, who had been treated for injuries at the Medical Center of South Arkansas in the days prior. She told deputies Rowland had been angry during the car ride, driving at a high rate of speed.

She said she turned around in her seat to make sure the child in the back seat was secured. At that point, she said, Rowland began punching her in the head and pulling her hair. She did not recall exiting the vehicle, but said Rowland was punching her in the head immediately before she found herself outside of the car.

She noted that the vehicle’s doors lock automatically when it is put in gear, so the doors should have been locked before she fell out. She said she’d never experienced trouble with the door’s latch before.

Rowland told deputies he did not hit the woman or push her out of the vehicle. He said he was angry and hitting the steering wheel and had hit the woman in the past, so she may have felt threatened by him during the ride.

Rowland pleaded guilty to first-degree domestic battery Thursday. He was sentenced to two years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections with 234 days of pre-trial incarceration credit.

After his prison term, Rowland will serve four years suspended imposition of sentence (SIS). SIS is similar to probation, though if Rowland re-offends, he could face harsher punishment than probationers, such as immediate incarceration.

Rowland was also ordered to pay $195 in court costs and fees.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or cbutler@eldoradonews.com.

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