It started with a fight and ended with a Nazareth woman on a ventilator and likely paralyzed for the rest of her life. In a preliminary hearing Tuesday, the woman's husband said he never intended to hurt her.
Jason Gruver had nothing to say as officers led him into court, but prosecutors had plenty to say about the morning in July when Gruver is accused of trying to kill his wife at their Union Street home, and paralyzing her in the process.
"She is a quadriplegic," said prosecutor Kelly Lewis-Fallenstein. "If you know Christopher Reeve, she is basically the female equivalent or worse."
Maria Gruver is still in a Philadelphia rehab hospital and was unable to testify. However, a judge heard her disoriented words on a 911 call.
911 Operator: "What happened that you feel that you can't move now?"
Maria Gruver: "Me and my husband got into a fight."
911 Operator: "OK."
Gruver: " I need help."
911 Operator: "Did he assault you?"
911 Operator: "Okay, what part of you did he hit that you went without feeling anything?"
Gruver: "He restrained me."
Jason Gruver's attorney said the recording supports his case.
"When Maria Gruver called 911, she said that, 'My husband restrained me,'" said defense lawyer Gary Asteak. "Totally consistent with what [Jason] had told the police upon their arrival. They had been in a fight and he gave her a bear hug."
Jason Gruver told police that, after a visit to a nightclub on her birthday, his wife attacked him first. He told troopers that Maria was threatening to kill herself, so he gave her a "bear hug" to restrain her. When police found Gruver, he had cut his own wrist and used his blood to write, "I love you so much. I'm so sorry,'" on a shower wall.
Asteak argued it's more proof that Gruver never meant to hurt his wife.
But on the 911 tape, you can hear Maria say, "Don't kill me," to someone. A paramedic also testified that Maria said her husband choked her.
Prosecutors said they hope the case sends a message about domestic violence.
"If we can protect one woman, yes," said Lewis-Fallenstein. "If we can protect from this, hopefully we can protect more than one woman. People do not deserve to be abused and the vicious, vicious cycle of domestic violence."
Prosecutor refered to this case as a "vicious cycle" because Jason Gruver is also accused of assaulting his wife in 2009 in Bethlehem. Judge John Capobianco also sent that charge to trial.
Allentown, PA 18102
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