Natrona County Judge: Strangulation is Similar to Attempted Murder
UPDATE: One of three men charged with strangulation of a household member last week was sentenced to a year in jail during a change of plea hearing in Natrona County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
Austin Smith was charged with strangulation of a household member, one count of domestic battery, and one count of interference with a 911 call.
But in a plea deal between Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk and Public Defender Joseph Cole, and agreed to by Judge Michael Patchen, the strangulation count would be dropped.
In exchange for the plea, Smith will serve six-month term for the domestic battery count and a consecutive six-month term for the interference count.
During his plea, Smith said he and his wife got into a physical argument and tried to take his phone from her when she tried to dial 911. He did not remember throwing her to the ground, he added.
The crime of strangulation of a household member is comparable to attempted murder, and those accused deserve high bonds, a judge said Monday.
"I find that strangulation is (close to) attempted murder," Natrona County Circuit Court Judge Michael Patchen said during initial appearances.
People can become unconscious in five to 10 seconds and die in 30 seconds, Patchen said.
The long-term effects, he added, include stroke because even the brief interruption of the flow of blood to the brain can lead to an increased risk of stroke months later.
Patchen reacted with these comments when Aaron Miracle, one of three men at initials facing charges of strangulation, objected to the judge's recommendation of a $30,000 bond.
Aaron Miracle, 45, was charged with strangulation of a household member, which is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, and two misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance.
According to court records, officers responded to a residence in Paradise Valley on Thursday morning after Miracle called dispatch to report his wife was suicidal, although a dispatcher could hear a woman in the background say he had choked her and was trying to kill her.
Miracle's explanation of events didn't make sense, according to the affidavit.
However, his wife said that had argued and he began choking her and she couldn't breathe for about five seconds and they had pain in her throat. They then went to sleep, when they woke up they began arguing with each saying they wanted a divorce.
Trevor Latimore, 22, was charged with strangulation of a household member and one count of possession of a controlled substance. Patchen set Latimore's bond at $30,000.
According to court records, officers arrived Thursday night at an apartment (address not listed) to respond to a report of a family fight. When the woman answered the door, she was nearly naked and her face was covered in blood. Officers also saw Latimore who had a lot of blood on his face that apparently came from his nose.
Latimore told officers that he was trying to put some items in a bag when his girlfriend began hitting him. He said the blood on her face had somehow gotten on her face, and blood on the bed was when he pushed her off a bed.
The girlfriend said she and Latimore began dating eight months earlier, and after two months he became abusive. That night, they had been drinking at a bar, he was distant, and began arguing when they were traveling home. When they arrived at the apartment, he pushed her and held her down on the bed.
Latimore had a medical condition that caused him to bleed a lot. She pushed him off her. He briefly left the room, returned and grabbed her around the neck, strangling her and pushing her into a closet. The girlfriend then lost consciousness.
Austin Smith was charged with strangulation of a household member, one count of domestic battery, and one count of interference with a 911 call. Patchen set Smith's bond at $40,000 because a firearm was involved in the altercation.
Court records say officers responded to a report of a fight between a husband and wife in east Casper on Wednesday night. The wife said that Swift quit his job that day, they both were drinking, put their children to bed, and he then accused her of having a boyfriend.
She said Swift went to a separate room to sleep, she saw he was passed out and tried to remove his boots. They began fighting, she tried to call police, and he took the phone away and began choking her.
Swift said he was going to kill himself, got a shotgun, put a round in the chamber and pointed it at his head. She wrestled the gun away from him, and the gun hit her head.
Swift left the residence and was taken into custody on Thursday.