Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Attempted-strangulation case filed

Suspect accused of being in country illegally

Express Staff Writer

Ricardo Vargas-Hurtado

A 21-year-old Hailey man suspected of being in the United States illegally has been charged with a felony for allegedly attempting to strangle his former girlfriend early Friday morning.

Ricardo Vargas-Hurtado was formally charged with attempted strangulation at an initial court appearance Monday in Blaine County Magistrate Court. Vargas-Hurtado was also charged with the misdemeanor crimes of false imprisonment and intentional destruction of telecommunications equipment.

Hailey attorney Cheri Hicks was appointed public defender. Vargas-Hurtado remained incarcerated Tuesday in the Blaine County jail on $10,000 bond. An "immigration detainer" filed by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency alleges that Vargas-Hurtado is an illegal immigrant.

The case is the fourth attempted-strangulation case filed recently and now pending in Blaine County 5th District Court. Each case alleges that a man choked his girlfriend or former girlfriend during a dispute. The crime of attempted strangulation is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The case against Vargas-Hurtado originated around 3 a.m. Friday outside of the suspect's home on Briarwood Drive in southeast Hailey. Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter said Vargas-Hurtado had offered to give his 18-year-old former girlfriend a ride home from a party in the Picabo area and took her to his own home instead.

Gunter said the woman tried to leave but Vargas-Hurtado wouldn't let her and physically restrained her by grabbing her around the neck and choking her. He also allegedly took her cell phone while she was trying to call 911. Gunter said Vargas-Hurtado then let the woman go.

Gunter said the woman complained to police later Friday and had bruises on her neck that substantiated her story.

Terry Smith:

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