Benny Sandoval again

Benny Sandoval, left, listens to District Court Judge Robert Whelan last week before he was sentenced for various crimes in 2017. He pleaded not guilty to new charges Thursday.

A man sentenced last week to six years in custody of prison officials for strange crimes in 2017 pleaded not guilty to new charges Thursday alleging he struck his girlfriend in the face with a possible karate chop and then covered her mouth.

In a separate case Wednesday, a judge sentenced a Whitehall man to five years of custody of the Montana Department of Corrections for getting caught with a concealed weapon as a felon after falling asleep in his car outside a Town Pump in Butte.

Only a week after being sentenced for offenses in 2017, Benny Phillip Sandoval, 40, pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of strangling a partner or family member and one misdemeanor count of partner/family member assault.

Sandoval was initially accused of flagging down a motorist on a rural road near Melrose in November 2017, throwing a rock through the driver’s widow then breaking into a cabin and starting a recreational fire.

He was convicted of criminal endangerment and got a six-year suspended sentence but that was revoked because of repeated probation violations. So last week, District Judge Robert Whelan sentenced him to six years in DOC custody.

While that case was still pending, prosecutors say Sandoval assaulted his girlfriend in Butte this past Jan. 14. She said they started arguing and he struck her in the left eye.

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When police asked her if his hand was open or closed in a fist, she said it’s possible it was “more of a karate chop with a bladed hand.” He also grabbed her and covered her mouth, making it difficult for her to breath.

Sandoval pleaded not guilty to the new charges before District Judge Kurt Krueger on Thursday and was remanded to the Butte jail pending transfer to the DOC.

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In the case Wednesday, District Judge Robert Whelan sentenced 27-year-old Samuel Quinn Brown to five years with the DOC. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of possessing dangerous drugs, heroine, and one count of a felon carrying a concealed weapon.

Police were called to the Town Pump on Continental Drive on March 22 on a report of a man who had been sleeping in his car for three hours.

When officers woke Brown up and did a pat search, they discovered a pistol down the front of his pants. It had a loaded magazine in it but no bullet in the chamber. They also found various drugs, including heroine and what appeared to be meth.

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