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Assault victim shares story of abuse by man now charged with murder

Nichole Clark was assaulted by a man now behind bars awaiting trial, charged with murder after his girlfriend was found stabbed to death in west Toledo.

TOLEDO, Ohio — CONTENT WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions and photos of domestic assault. Viewer discretion is advised.

We're learning more about how a west Toledo woman was killed Wednesday morning.

RELATED: Woman stabbed to death in west Toledo, boyfriend arrested and charged with murder

Police say 36-year-old Juan Garibaldo stabbed his 39-year-old girlfriend Sarah Schulte to death inside a west Toledo duplex Wednesday morning.

The coroner said Schulte was stabbed multiple times in her head, face, neck and chest. She also had injuries to her hands which the coroner says shows she was trying to defend herself.

Garibaldo is behind bars on a $1.25 million bond.

Now WTOL 11 is talking with a woman previously abused by this same man.

"It could have been me. It's scary. The whole situation is scary," Nichole Clark said, after learning the man who served two years in prison for assaulting her is now facing murder charges. 

"He had no mercy in his eyes. He smiled a couple times when he was hitting me, on top of me. He enjoyed it. He enjoyed it," she said.

Clark said she was in a casual relationship with Juan Garibaldo in 2019.

"He seemed like a sweetheart. Like a big teddy bear and I trusted him," Clark said.

She said at first he never gave her a reason to fear for her safety, but here and there he would lie to her or try to control her. 

Then, in February of 2019, she said they got into an argument, which escalated to physical violence. 

"He was next to me and next thing I knew, I was laid back and he was straddled on top of my stomach. On top of me and just left, right, left, just going and going. Finally, he got tired and he gave a break," Clark said.

Clark said Garibaldo also kicked her in the face with steel-toed boots a number of times. 

Credit: Nichole Clark

She eventually got out of the bedroom and he pushed her down the stairs.

She said the abuse continued, but somehow she got out of the house and outran him. 

"I just kept going and going and going. He ran out of breath and I got to safety," Clark said. said.

Garibaldo was indicted on felonious assault charges and sentenced to two years in prison. He was released in April 2021. 

Clark said Garibaldo could have potentially gotten a longer sentence if she was able to testify, but she was traumatized and unable to face her abuser in court. 

"I just didn't want him looking at me. Like, I didn't want to see him," she said.

Clark said she feels sick, learning about Schulte's death. She feels for her family.

"I've been taking this really personally. Like, had I tried harder. Had I just sucked it up and went out on trial and just did what I had to do, then maybe that wouldn't have happened to her," Clark said.

Clark said if she could do anything now, it would be to tell women who are in abusive relationships not to ignore the red flags. 

RELATED: As domestic violence deaths rise, Ohio still lacks a strangulation law

"Even the small ones, you know? It seems like it's not a big deal, but like I said, they're showing you who they are," she said.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, call the YWCA's hotline at (419) 241-7386.

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