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Heavy sentence handed to Ceres man for 16 assault
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Pritpal Willis Lal, 29, of Ceres, was convicted and sentenced to 23 years and four months in state prison on March 28 after pleading no contest to felony assault likely to cause great bodily injury, false imprisonment and three counts of dissuading a witness.

Judge Scott Steffen issued the sentence as part of a plea bargain.

His sentence was doubled because of a 2014 residential burglary conviction, which is a "strike" under California's "Three Strikes" law.

Deputy District Attorney Heather M. Melton said that on August 18, 2016, Lal and his female victim were in a verbal argument in Lal's moving vehicle. Lal refused to take the victim home, would not stop the car, and repeatedly struck her with his fists. When she attempted to escape, Lal forcibly pushed her from the vehicle which was traveling an estimated 25 to 35 miles per hour. Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene and arrested Lal for the assault.

While in custody, Lal called the victim numerous times on the phone and pressured her to lie to authorities and refuse to testify in court, even if served with a court order.