Casper-Area Man Guilty of Agg. Assault; Woman Needed Life Flight
A Natrona County man pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in an August incident that investigators say left a woman with a collapsed lung and in need of a helicopter to take her to the hospital.
Matthew Drengenberg pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated assault in Natrona County District Court Wednesday. As part of a plea agreement, two additional aggravated assault charges and a single strangulation of a household member charge were dropped. The agreement also stipulates that prosecutors will ask for a prison sentence of no more than 4 to 6 years.
He will be sentenced at a later date.
Addressing Judge Kerri M. Johnson, Drengenberg said he and the woman were arguing when he kneed her in the face and torso several times. However, a Natrona County Sheriff's Office investigator wrote in the initial report that the victim said Drengenberg kicked her between 50 and 60 times with steel-toe boots.
Drengenberg did admit to causing the victim to suffer broken ribs. The sheriff's investigator also wrote in the affidavit that the victim had to be life-flighted from the due to suffering a partially collapsed lung.
Court documents say the incident happened on Rodeo Road in Natrona County.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, the victim called 911 and told a dispatcher that Drengenberg kicked her in the stomach multiple times and took her glasses. In what an investigator called a "blood-curdling scream," the victim can be heard begging Drengenberg to stop beating her.
Instead, the affidavit says, Drengenberg berates the victim for calling law enforcement and notes that they were at least 20 minutes away.
"You're going to need them now," Drengenberg is heard telling the victim, court documents say.
The victim was able to tell authorities that Drengenberg assaulted her before she was flown from the scene to a local hospital. She also said Drengenberg drug her through cacti during the incident. It took hospital staff roughly 30 minutes to remove the "tremendous" amount of cactus stuck in her legs, the affidavit says.
According to the affidavit, investigators spoke with one of the victim's acquaintances after a nurse called him to the hospital.
The affidavit says the "first words out of " the acquaintance's mouth when he spoke with investigators were, "He beat the s--- out of her again, didn't he?" before noting that there were three other instances of Drengenberg beating the victim that he knew about. In one case, Drengenberg pistolwhipped the victim.
Court records say the acquaintance told investigators that he kept text messages from the victim because he was worried Drengenberg would kill her and he wanted law enforcement to have evidence if she was ever killed.
As a part of Monday's plea agreement, Drengenberg also had a misdemeanor domestic violence charge for an April incident with the same victim dismissed. In that case, the victim told Casper police investigators that Drengenberg threw her to the ground, broke her glasses and kicked her in the stomach.
Drengenberg was free on bond for the April incident when the August assault happened, court documents say.