A Casper man pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to a litany of charges related to months of alleged physical and mental abuse of his wife.
Prosecutors charged Benjamin Means with three felonies — two counts of aggravated assault and battery and one count of strangulation of a household member — and four misdemeanors — false imprisonment, domestic battery, interfering with emergency calls and stalking — in connection to continued reports of abuse between March and November.
In interviews with Casper police, the victim outlined a pattern of Means’ escalating violence toward her and her children, court documents show. The woman said Means became violent toward her shortly after she noticed he was using methamphetamine in February and had physically attacked her five or six times between March and November.
A neighbor called Casper police on Aug. 25 after hearing a woman screaming for help inside the garage of Means’ home on South Springs Road, court documents show. Police found the woman, who told them that Means had broken into her safe and stolen all of her money and valuables.
When the woman confronted Means and said she was leaving the house, Means grabbed her and pushed her into the dryer and wouldn’t let her leave the home, the documents state. The woman broke away and attempted to leave through the garage, but Means attacked her from behind and hit her on the face with his forearm before pinning her to the garage wall and taking her cellphone and car keys. Means threw the phone on the ground so that the woman couldn’t call 911. When the woman broke away, Means threatened to kill himself if she called police, the documents show.
The woman called police shortly after and judge later issued a warrant for Means’ arrest in connection to the attack.
The woman called police again on Oct. 6 and said that Means had been consistently stalking and harassing her while she stayed at a safe house. Means had not yet been arrested on the warrant from the Aug. 25 attack.
The woman told police that Means continuously texted her and had called her cellphone about 59 times between Oct. 2 and Oct. 6. She said Means threatened her and her daughter in some of the text and voice messages. The woman said Means sometimes alluded to information she had said to friends or family members during phone calls and that she feared he was listening. Means previously had managed her cellphone and iPad accounts.
Beyond the calls, Means also continued to appear at locations where the woman was, in places like the grocery store or gas stations, the documents state. Means also revealed during a phone call that he knew the location of the safe house where she had been living. The woman feared he had been tracking her location through the GPS on her phone or iPad.
As she moved out of the safe house to protect the other residents, Means drove by in his vehicle. He later told her he knew where her vehicle was, and when the woman returned to the vehicle she found that one of her tires had been sliced.
Officers requested a warrant regarding the stalking allegations in addition to the warrant from the August report. Casper police arrested Means on the two warrants on Nov. 6.
During a Nov. 7 interview with a detective, the woman said Means first attacked her sometime between March and September as she walked into the bedroom in their house on South Springs Road.
Means was sitting on the bed and then “jumped up and bolted across the room into (the woman’s) face,” according to the documents. Means then forced her onto the bed, where he held her down and attempted to strangle her. The woman said she couldn’t breathe and bit him on the hand because she felt that she was going to die, the documents state. The woman told police than Means broke her pinky finger and possibly broke her jaw during the attack.
The victim also told police that on Oct. 2 Means had threatened to kill her daughter with a shotgun. Means loaded the shotgun and said he was going to “blow (the daughter’s) head right off her shoulders,” according to court documents.
Later that month, Means pointed a pistol at her head after she confronted him about his drug use, the woman told police. Means said that he would shoot her if she called police, according to the documents. The woman later knocked the gun out his hand.
The woman said she was going to call police about the incident after it happened but said she was afraid he would get out of jail and hurt her for reporting him.
If convicted, Means could face up to 10 years in prison for each aggravated assault charge, five years for the strangulation charge, one year in jail for the false imprisonment charge and up to six months each for the domestic battery, interference and stalking charges.