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Second trial set for man charged in March assault

Nov 15, 2015 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

A second trial will begin Dec. 7 in the case of a Riverton man charged with beating his ex-girlfriend while driving to Lander in March.

The defendant was released on bond after a Nov. 5 hearing in Lander District Court, during which his lawyer argued evidence against him is weak.

Justin Tanner King's first trial in September ended in a mistrial because of a question from prosecutors. King faces charges of felonious restraint, strangulation of a household member, aggravated assault and battery, domestic battery and theft for allegedly attacking his ex-girlfriend Patricia Barrett of Riverton.

King's lawyer Gordon Ellis said the prosecution's case rests on Barrett's testimony, but she contradicted herself during the first trial.

Because the evidence against King is weak, the lawyer asked Young to give King an unsecured bond.

Ellis also noted King has been in jail since his arrest, and the second trial became necessary through no fault of King's.

Young agreed to change King's bond from $50,000 cash - meaning he would have to give the court that much money before he could leave jail - to $50,000 unsecured.

An unsecured doesn't require any money up front, but if King violates his bond by missing his court date, for example, he would owe the court $50,000.

Young ordered King to stay with grandparents in Lander and to not leave their home.

First trial

Investigators believe King got angry at Barrett on March 14 and choked her, put a knife to her throat and beat her before forcing her into a car and continuing to assault her as they drove to Lander. After they arrived at his friend's house in Lander, Barrett was able to escape, an affidavit said.

At King's first trial, Ellis argued Barrett inflicted the injuries on herself, saying she has a history of hurting herself. Ellis said Barrett was unharmed when she left King's friend's house. How Barrett suffered her injuries promises to be a key issue at the new trial. Fremont County deputy attorney Dan Stebner indicated he intends to call a new witness - a doctor - to discuss how she may have received her wounds.

Young called a mistrial in the earlier trial when Stebner asked a question Young believed violated King's Fifth Amendment right to not self-incriminate.

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