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Ex-Falls police officer given probation in assault of girlfriend

Former Niagara Falls policeman Mark L. Feldhousen was placed on three years' probation Wednesday for assaulting his girlfriend in her home Nov. 12.

Also, Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John Chella disclosed that Feldhousen had filed retirement papers before the trial started but made them effective after the trial.

By doing so, Feldhousen protected the pension he had built up through 40 years of police service and his city-paid lifetime health insurance, Chella said.

Feldhousen, 59, was convicted May 3 of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in connection with the Nov. 12 incident with Shona Hamilton, 40, his girlfriend of three years.

Hamilton suffered a concussion, a punctured eardrum and several bruises. She said Wednesday that Feldhousen slammed her into a dresser and "knocked me cold" with a subsequent blow to the head.

Feldhousen testified at the trial that any injuries Hamilton suffered resulted from his attempt to defend himself from an attack by her. Wednesday, Hamilton and Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Baehre accused Feldhousen of lying on the witness stand.

"I know he could have killed me. I know I'm lucky he didn't," Hamilton told County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III. "I know I'm lucky to be alive. I'm luckier to be free of this abusive man."

She said she still suffers from headaches and can't tolerate loud noises.

Feldhousen originally was charged with a felony, but the Niagara County Court jury that heard the case rejected that charge as well as a charge of intentional misdemeanor assault. It also rejected Feldhousen's self-defense claim and convicted him on a charge of reckless assault.

"I thought it was a fair verdict. I thought it was supported by the evidence," Murphy said Wednesday.

"It was an unfortunate relationship," defense attorney Jon L. Wilson said. "Two unhappy people, two lonely people, and it had a tragic ending."

"I'm very sorry for being involved in any of this," Feldhousen told the judge.

Murphy ordered Feldhousen to serve four weekends in the county work program. Conditions of probation include his participation in a domestic violence program and making arrangements to have his property moved out of Hamilton's house by Labor Day, as the victim requested.

Wilson disclosed that Feldhousen was married two weeks ago to another woman. It is his third marriage.

Hamilton asked Murphy to impose the maximum sentence of a year in jail, but the judge said, "When you come to sentence, you have to look at a person's entire life, who they are and what they are." He acknowledged Feldhousen's long police service, 39 years with the Niagara Falls police and one with the State Parks Police, and said Feldhousen up until now had lived "a blameless life."

Hamilton told The Buffalo News, "I'm disappointed that he didn't get incarceration, but I'm satisfied that he will be supervised for three years."

Chella said, "It's a closure for both Mark Feldhousen and the Niagara Falls Police Department."

Chella said Feldhousen, whose trial began April 25, apparently intended to withdraw his retirement plans if he had been acquitted. The effective date for his retirement was May 20.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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