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Not guilty plea entered on felony stalking 

A man who has been arrested several times for violating a restraining order pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony stalking charge.

Benny Phillip Sandoval, 38, was returned to the county jail after entering his plea before District Judge Brad Newman. The judge set a Nov. 21 hearing to determine if the current $5,000 bond should be reduced.

Prosecutors say Sandoval sent numerous text messages to a woman and her mother from Aug. 1 to Oct. 12 threatening to harm them both. They also received messages that others had forwarded to them.

One said, in part, “I am OK with it but I am gonna end up hurting her physically …”, according to the charging document.

Felony stalking in Montana carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and $50,000 fine.

STRANGULATION CHARGE

A 19-year-old man accused of grabbing a teen-age girl by the throat pleaded not guilty to a felony count of strangulation of a partner or family member and two other charges.

Tyler John Ossello also pleaded not guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanor partner or family member assault. He remains free on bond with his next hearing set Dec. 14.

Prosecutors say Ossello had been drinking and was in a vehicle with the teen girl on Aug. 23 when he accused her of “snap chatting” with another male. They had previously dated.

He grabbed her by the throat, two others in the car yelled at him to stop but the girl said her oxygen had been cut off for a while, prosecutors say.

Several days later, Ossello allegedly forced his way into a residence and tried to pick the lock to a bathroom door to get to the girl. A friend showed up and called police, according to the charges.

The strangulation charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and $50,000 fine, the burglary charge a possible 10 years and $50,000 fine. The misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine.

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Government and politics reporter

Reporter with emphasis on government and politics.

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