Zachary M. Covella, 33, of Wausau. Felony charges filed Dec. 27 include stalking, strangulation/suffocation, and two counts of second degree sexual assault with the use of force.

By Shereen Siewert

A 34-year-old Wausau sex offender who repeatedly assaulted a former girlfriend and tracked her movements through her phone will head back to prison, after he was sentenced this week in Marathon County Circuit Court.

Zachary Covella previously spent three years in prison on child pornography charges. But in December, Covella was convicted of strangulation or suffocation, stalking, battery and having contact after a domestic abuse arrest. Charges of second-degree sexual assault were dismissed. His sentencing hearing, held Tuesday followed a presentencing investigation.

Covella first made headlines in 2013 after police found videos and images on his computer that portrayed sex acts between young boys. In February 2015, Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson sentenced Covella to three years in prison followed by three years extended supervision. He was granted 648 days sentence credit for time served awaiting trial and was not on supervision at the time of his latest arrest.

The new charges were filed after a friend of the victim called police to request a welfare check out of concern for her safety. Police responded in the afternoon of Dec. 20, 2019 and interviewed the woman, who told investigators Covella followed her movements by tracking her phone and frequently pulled her hair, kicked her with his steel-toed boots and often hit her on her head if she didn’t answer his questions correctly, according to court documents.

The victim also told police Covella showed her a knife and “said I needed to listen to him or else he can easily stab me,” according to court filings. Police say Covella threatened to report the woman for kidnapping if she left him and took her daughter.

On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Mike Moran sentenced Covella to six years in the Wisconsin Prison System consisting of three years of initial confinement followed by three years of extended supervision. Covella, who was already on the Sex Offender Registry, must continue his registration for the rest of his life. He was given 452 days credit for time served while awaiting trial.