A 34-year-old man is facing a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge after allegedly bear-spraying his wife Sunday evening.
Justin McKenzie Pfau is charged in Missoula County Justice Court with partner family member assault, a misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty to the charge at his initial appearance Monday afternoon.
According to charging documents filed Monday morning, two Missoula County Sheriff's deputies responded Sunday night to Community Medical Center, where they spoke with a woman who said her husband had blasted her with bear spray. She told the deputies that she and her husband, who was intoxicated at the time, had gotten into an argument.
The altercation apparently took place while they were driving to the Bitterroot River, near the Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast. Pfau had accused her of stealing his vehicle, she said, and she left him at the river to "cool down." When she returned, he threatened to spray her with bear spray if she did not get out of the driver's seat, she said.
"She said he then counted down from five and sprayed her in the face, ear and across the face," prosecutors said in charging documents.
Deputies at the hospital watched the woman wash her arms with milk in order to chill the irritation from the bear spray, and noted red marks on her neck, face and right arm.
Pfau told authorities he became angry when she left him at the river, and said she became confrontational with him when she returned. She was the one who became violent, he said, according to court documents, and so he was standing near the driver's-side window when he sprayed her.
While Pfau said he jetted her with bear spray in self-defense, "he could not provide a valid excuse for threatening and spraying his wife with bear spray," according to the affidavit.
Missoula County prosecutors agreed to Pfau's release on his own recognizance on Monday; the woman said during his initial appearance that she was "not afraid" of him. Missoula County Justice of the Peace Alex Beal ordered they have no in-person contact as the case is proceeding, and that Pfau be subject to alcohol monitoring.