Alleah Taylor, the ex-girlfriend of Chad Wheeler, said she's unsure whether the alleged assault by the former Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman was related to his mental health.
Wheeler, who has bipolar disorder, pleaded not guilty last week to criminal charges of first-degree domestic violence assault and domestic violence unlawful imprisonment. He said in a series of tweets last month that the events that led to his arrest and booking on Jan. 23 "transpired from a manic episode."
Taylor was asked by "CBS This Morning," in an interview that aired Wednesday, whether she thought the assault was directly connected to Wheeler's mental health.
"To be honest, I don't know," said Taylor, speaking publicly about the incident for the first time. "He went and ate dinner after doing this to me. He didn't take the same approach with the cops as he did with me."
Wheeler has a case-setting hearing scheduled for Thursday, and his trial is scheduled for April 6. He was ordered last week to remain in Washington on electronic home detention with a GPS-equipped ankle monitoring device as a condition of his pretrial release.
Wheeler was arrested after Taylor told police he twice choked her into unconsciousness. The police report states that when police forced entry into the apartment shared by Wheeler and Taylor, she was crying in pain, with her face covered in blood and her left arm swollen and limp against her body. She also had noticeable fingerprints on both sides of her neck, according to the report. Scans revealed a fractured humerus and dislocated elbow, according to the charging documents.
Taylor said in the interview that she has a concussion that she has to get regularly checked and has "bolts and a steel plate I'm going to have forever in my arm."
First-degree domestic violence assault is a Class A felony in Washington, while domestic violence unlawful imprisonment is a Class C felony. If convicted, Wheeler could be sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison, according to prosecutors. Taylor answered "yes, yes" when asked whether Wheeler should be sentenced to prison.
"I definitely ... think that he should. The hardest part of all this wasn't the surgeries, it wasn't any of that. It was getting a call from my niece and nephews. They thought they had lost me. The pain in their voice, I will never forget that. I will never forget that," she said.
She also explained why she appeared in court last week at Wheeler's hearing.
"I didn't want him to think that he had that power over me, that I wasn't going to defend myself. And I thought how easy for him and his legal team to be able to say whatever they want without having to look me in the eye."
Taylor said she is "beyond grateful" to be alive.
"I really feel like God has blessed me with another chance. I want to try to use the time I've been blessed with to help other people and to get this story out and make sure people don't feel alone and that this doesn't happen again," she said.
ESPN's Brady Henderson contributed to this report.