A West Plains man has been arrested on a charge of first-degree domestic assault after allegedly punching his wife in the face during an argument, causing her to need stitches inside and outside of her lip.

Matthew Ronald Gavlak, 47, Grace Avenue, was arrested at 2:21 p.m. Saturday and released on $50,000 bail. The incident reportedly took place in October and a warrant was issued Nov. 14, according to court records.  

Howell County Sheriff’s Deputy James Hatten investigated the incident Oct. 26 at a home just southwest of West Plains off of County Road 6540.

The woman reported to Hatten that Gavlak had been staying at the home with her, and the two were arguing over keys when Gavlak struck her in the face, causing a cut on her upper lip.

Hatten said photos were taken of the woman’s injury for evidence at the home and she declined an ambulance.

The deputy then reportedly spoke to Gavlak at a home on Grace Avenue. Gavlak told Hatten he had last seen his wife three days prior, and the last time he had been to the location of the alleged assault was two days prior.

Gavlak reportedly denied he had spoken to or saw his wife the day of the incident.

The woman reportedly stopped by the Howell County Sheriff’s Office at a later time, where she told Hatten she had been treated at Ozarks Medical Center and had gotten stitches.        

In his statement to prosecutors, Hatten said there have been at least two previous domestic assault incidents between the two in which Gavlak was the aggressor.

Court records show Gavlak is set to make his initial court appearance at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 21 in the courtroom of 37th Circuit Presiding Judge Steven Privette.

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