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Natrona County judge accepts domestic violence pleas after attorneys modify deal
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Natrona County judge accepts domestic violence pleas after attorneys modify deal

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A judge on Tuesday ordered a Natrona County man to serve nine months at a halfway house for two domestic violence crimes, two months after rejecting an agreement that would have let him free on probation.

The man, Alec Chastaine, 47, will be eligible for probation when he completes the term at Casper Re-Entry. Judge Kerri Johnson sentenced Chastaine for his guilty plea Tuesday to a single felony count of strangulation. He also pleaded guilty to a single count of misdemeanor domestic battery.

A three-to-five year term of imprisonment underlies the sentence, which means that if Chastaine violates the terms of his probation, he could be ordered to serve the rest of the time behind bars. He’s already served 303 days in jail.

Although Chastaine first entered guilty pleas to the charges in October, Johnson earlier this year voided the agreement under which he entered those pleas, calling it too weak to fit the crimes. In making her decision to throw out that agreement, which called for probation but not the term at CRC, the judge noted that investigators had found a fractured vertebra in the victim’s back.

On Tuesday, Chastaine appeared before the judge by a video feed from Natrona County Detenion Center, where he’s been held since his June arrest. He told Johnson while pleading guilty to the charges that he strangled a woman and pushed her into a nearby counter top.

Because a background investigation had already been completed for an earlier hearing, Johnson agreed to consider Chastaine’s sentence during the Tuesday hearing. Kurt Infanger, the public defender representing Chastaine, told the judge that the jail time his client had already served — in combination with the upcoming nine months in work-release custody — would total a sentence more appropriate than the one she rejected in February. He noted as well that Chastaine was intoxicated at the time of the crime. Nearly eight hours after the arrest, his blood alcohol content was still above the legal limit to drive.

Chastaine declined to speak on his own behalf. The judge did not detail her reasoning in issuing the sentence. Although Infanger asked for Chastaine to go free on bond while he awaits placement in CRC, Johnson denied that request.

The prosecution dates to June, when police arrested Chastaine, alleging he strangled the woman, punched her kidneys — which are the location of a prior medical issue — and her back. She told police shortly after the attack that she thought Chastaine could kill her and has tried to do so previously, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.

He told a detective that he has strangled the same woman multiple times in the past, according to the documents.

Then, in October, Chastaine pleaded guilty by admitting in court to drunkenly attacking the woman and strangling her. When Johnson then asked him if Chastaine had punched the woman in the back, he could not specify.

In February, following the typical investigation into his background made in advance of sentencing, Johsnson declined to accept the agreement calling for probation in lieu of a three- to five-year prison sentence. The judge then noted that such a sentence is more frequently seen in drug possession convictions.

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson joined the Star-Tribune in 2017. He covers courts and law enforcement agencies in Natrona County and across the state. Shane studied journalism at the University of Missouri and worked at newspapers there before moving to Wyoming.

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