A man who admitted in June to drunkenly strangling a pregnant woman and hiding in a crawlspace until police arrived will avoid prison so long as he complies with the terms of his probation.

Desmond James Vasquez, 30, was sentenced to five years of supervised probation with an underlying four- to five-year prison sentence Friday in Albany County District Court.

Judge Jeffrey Donnell ordered Vasquez to continue his treatment for alcohol abuse, take a criminal thinking class and complete 100 hours of community service within the next 15 months.

Vasquez pleaded guilty on one count of strangulation of a household member June 28.

"This is a big pill for me to swallow today," Donnell said after reading Vasquez his sentence. "If you violate your probation, and I mean in any little way, you're going to come back here and you'll be off to the penitentiary."

The victim was present in court, and asked Donnell to give Vasquez a chance before sending him to prison.

"He's a great father. He's a great person," the victim said, emphasizing that sending Vasquez to prison would only hurt his family. "He finally has gotten a wake-up call."

Defense attorney Vaughn Neubauer said Vasquez has a lengthy misdemeanor record, but, "is a man very dedicated to his family."

"Like so many domestic abusers, he really is a good guy when he's sober," Neubauer said.

Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said she believes Vasquez has shown a change, but she added that doesn't change what happened.

"This victim was pregnant at the time, and thank God nothing more serious happened to the baby or the victim," Trent said.

The plea agreement called for Vasquez to serve a split sentence, including up to a year in the Albany County Detention Center.

But Donnell was concerned about such a sentence because it would essentially victimize the victim again, in his words, and would not leave much time left for Vasquez to serve in prison should he violate his probation.

So, Donnell said he would give Vasquez "some rope," as Neubauer put it.

"People who do what you do should go to prison, frankly, for just as long as I can make it happen," Donnell said, emphasizing to Trent that he expects Vasquez to be strictly monitored while on probation.

"I'm giving you the rope," Donnell told Vasquez. "I hope you don't hang yourself with it."