A Casper man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single count each of sexual assault and strangulation.
Jacob Paquette, 20, entered the pleas to two felonies under the Alford procedure, which allows for a person to maintain their innocence while pleading guilty. Instead of admitting to commission of the crimes, people who plead guilty pursuant to Alford admit that prosecutors could convict them at trial.
The pleas — to third-degree sexual assault and strangulation of a household member — came as part of an agreement with prosecutors. Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri said the deal caps his argument at sentencing to a maximum of four to seven years in prison.
Paquette’s pleas came about three months after he entered not guilty pleas to nine felonies, including five counts of first-degree sexual assault. In charging documents, prosecutors had alleged that Paquette raped two people.
According to court documents filed this spring, police began investigating the case May 11, when a 17-year-old girl reported that Paquette assaulted her at her Natrona County home. She tried to leave a conversation with Paquette, the documents state she told police. He grabbed her to keep her from leaving and shoved her, before carrying her to a different room, the documents state she said.
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He put a pillow over her face, only releasing it when she stopped kicking her legs, the documents allege. He raped her multiple times that night and the next morning, the documents state she reported.
About an hour after the woman talked to police, Paquette called dispatchers and asked if any reports had been made against him, according to the documents. When a dispatcher told Paquette that information was not public, he then said a girl had beat him up and he would come to police headquarters to make a report, the documents state.
About an hour and a half later, Paquette told detectives that he had tried to keep the girl from leaving the house so she would not harm herself, the documents state.
He said the two had consensual sex multiple times, according to the documents. The next morning she again threatened self-harm, the documents state he told police.
Detectives investigating the case found a report of a sexual assault dating to September, in which a different person said Paquette had raped her, according to the documents.
Paquette will be sentenced only once authorities have investigated his background and attorneys have argued before a judge what penalty he should receive.