CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn -- (WPIX) -- A man with a history of domestic violence has been indicted in the strangulation death of his wife, the district attorney's office announced Thursday.
Barry Wells, 29, of Crown Heights, is charged with second-degree murder, aggravated criminal contempt, first-degree criminal contempt and aggravated family offense, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office said.
He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.
Wells is accused of strangling his wife, 22-year-old Tonie Wells, whose body was found in the basement of his Crown Heights brownstone on Dec. 27, 2017. There was an order of protection against him at the time of her death.
“This defendant allegedly killed the woman he purportedly loved,” District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said. “It is critical that we do all we can to combat domestic violence which in this instance escalated, led to a senseless death and left this young mother's family and friends to struggle with such a tragic loss.”
The couple was arguing that December morning when Tonie Wells' 21-month-old daughter was locked out of the apartment, the DA said.
Barry Wells is not the child's father, according to family members.
The child began crying and was taken in by a neighbor, according to the DA.
After the arguing stopped, the neighbor checked on Tonie Wells, and found her unconscious in the basement, the DA said. She was later pronounced dead.
At some point before Wells' body was found, officials said the toddler's crying and screams led a neighbor to call 911.
The two responding officers reported no sign of distress when they checked the area at 8:40 a.m. Different officers found the body after another call was placed around 10 a.m.
The first officers to respond were suspended, the NYPD said on Dec. 28.
Barry Wells was located in New Rochelle the day his wife died, the DA said.
He is scheduled to appear in court March 14.
Sources told PIX11 news that Tonie Wells and her husband had a history of domestic violence and that police were called to the home at least once before.