An Idaho man accused of driving to Missoula in hopes of reconnecting with his estranged wife – but allegedly stabbing her instead – pleaded not guilty Tuesday to attempted deliberate homicide.

Emmitt Hogsten Jr., 45, told Missoula County District Judge Karen Townsend he understood that, if convicted on the charges against him, he could face life in prison and a $50,000 fine.

“Are you prepared to enter a plea?” she asked him.

“Yeah,” he responded.

Hogsten reportedly stabbed his wife six or seven times in the chest last month and might have continued except that his knife broke, according to charging documents filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Patricia Bower.

He’s being held in the Missoula County jail on $500,000 bail. At his arraignment Tuesday, Assistant Chief Deputy Missoula County Attorney Suzy Boylan told Townsend that if a supervised release of Hogsten is suggested in lieu of bail, the state would oppose it.

“We think there is a significant danger,” she said.

Hogsten’s wife, her brother Robbie and other family members crowded together on a courtroom bench Tuesday. After Hogsten’s arraignment, his wife said she found it appalling that there’s even a chance her husband might be released from jail as the case against him proceeds.

Hogsten also faces a charge of evidence tampering.

His next court date is Jan. 8.

Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, or @CopsAndCourts.

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