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A 21-year-old Missoula man was charged Tuesday with felony aggravated assault for allegedly strangling his girlfriend during a domestic disturbance.

Police responded to a residence on Amity Lane Monday afternoon after two phone calls to 9-1-1 were disconnected, and a dispatcher heard a woman screaming in the background. When Missoula County sheriff's deputies arrived, the alleged victim said her boyfriend, Mahlon J. Lear, had pinned her down on the ground and strangled her with his hands.

The woman had a pronounced red mark across her throat, according to charging papers filed in Missoula County Justice Court. The victim said she was afraid that Lear was going to kill her, the records state.

Lear told deputies he had acted in self-defense, though deputies reported that he had no visible injuries. Lear also said the choking was accidental, but admitted that he had prevented his girlfriend from speaking with dispatchers because he did not want her to give them incorrect information.

In addition to felony assault, Lear is charged with criminal tampering with a communication device, a misdemeanor. If convicted of the charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison, a $51,000 fine and six months in jail.

Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at 523-5264 or tscott@missoulian.com.

 

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