NEWBURYPORT – An elderly Zabriske Drive man accused of trying to kill his wife with a pillow in June saw an attempted murder charge dropped but pleaded guilty to two domestic violence-related charges Thursday in Newburyport District Court.

Frank Pavuk, 84, was arraigned on charges of attempted murder, strangulation or suffocation, and domestic assault and battery. In court Thursday, Pavuk was sentenced to three years of probation after admitting to the strangulation or suffocation, and domestic assault and battery charges. 

During Pavuk’s probation, he must wear a GPS tracking unit, adhere to a curfew of 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., stay away from and have no contact with his wife, abide by all restraining orders, undergo a mental health evaluation and stay out of trouble with the law. 

The dismissal of the attempted murder charge came after conversations between Pavuk’s attorney and Superior Court and District Court prosecutors. By dismissing the attempted murder charge, the case remained at the District Court level. 

Police received a 911 call from a neighbor June 24 about 5 a.m. The neighbor said there was a woman screaming for help, according to a police report.

When Newburyport Officer Michael Wilichoski arrived, he heard the elderly woman’s cries and saw her carefully walking down the front steps with blood and red marks on her face. She told Wilichoski her husband tried to kill her and that he was in their home.

With his pistol drawn, Wilichoski entered the home and found Pavuk sitting in a chair.

“Everything’s OK, I just tried to kill my wife,” Pavuk told Wilichoski, according to the officer’s report.

Pavuk admitted to police he placed a plastic bag over her head and when that did not work, he tried to smother her with a pillow, according to a police report.

Pavuk was handcuffed without incident and placed in a police cruiser. By that time, Officer James Allen had arrived to assist.

Allen spoke to the woman, who claimed her husband tried to strangle her with both hands and then used a pillow to try to smother her. She was able to get away from him long enough to call for help.

By the time the woman fled the home, she saw Wilichoski, according to Allen’s report.

An Atlantic Ambulance crew drove her to Anna Jaques Hospital, where she was treated for her injuries and released an hour later.

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached by email at Follow him on Twitter: @drogers41008.

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