Man sentenced in northern Grant County assault

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ELECTRIC CITY — A man who forced his ex-wife into his vehicle after punching her in the stomach was sentenced to serve a total of 45 days in jail.

Juan Moreno, 41, pleaded guilty in Grant County Superior Court to first-degree criminal trespassing and entered an Alford plea to fourth-degree assault and was sentenced to a total of 364 days in jail with 319 days suspended for a period of two years. In an Alford plea a defendant is not pleading guilty to a crime, but believes they would be found guilty if the case were to proceed to trial. Moreno was initially charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault, but the charges were amended in a plea agreement.

The sentence relates to a July 23 incident when police in Grand Coulee received a report of a female being forced into a vehicle in Electric City. The reporting party, who was in a relationship with Moreno’s ex-wife, told police Moreno forced his way into his home and was armed with a baseball bat and a butcher knife.

Police records indicate Moreno swung the bat at the female victim but missed and ended up grabbing her by the wrists and dragging her. Moreno forced the woman into his vehicle against her will after punching her in the stomach and proceeded to drive at the male reporting party at a high rate of speed.

A witness reported seeing a Hispanic male drag a female to his car and added “it was obvious to her (the witness) that the female did not want to go with him and was screaming.” She corroborated the claims that Moreno struck the female and that the man who contacted police had to jump over a fence to keep from getting run over by Moreno.

The victim was found walking between Grand Coulee and Electric City a short time after the incident. She confirmed other witness accounts of what occurred and said Moreno told her he was going to use the knife on her if she attempted to escape his vehicle. She was able to escape however after Moreno parked at his house and placed the knife in the trunk of his vehicle.

Police noticed the victim’s left cheek bone area was swollen, as well as a mark on one of her forearms that was starting to bruise.

“She kept saying that she did not want to get Juan into trouble. She was intentionally very vague with details, and just wanted to get back to her residence,” wrote an officer.

Moreno was located a short time later in his vehicle in an alley behind his residence. He claimed the victim was stealing from him and his business and he had confronted her and she agreed to clean his business for him. He also claimed he never threatened or hit the victim and denied ever having a baseball or knife. A search of Moreno’s trunk did not turn up anything of evidentiary value.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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