Casper Man Who Allegedly Kidnapped Woman Will Go On Trial
A man who allegedly forced a woman into his van and tried to strangle her last month will be tried in Natrona County District Court, a judge ordered Thursday.
Natrona County Circuit Court Judge Michael Patchen said he found probable cause to bind over the case of Damon Bain Flanagan, 47, who is charged with felony counts of kidnapping and strangulation of a household member.
If convicted, Flanagan faces up to 25 years to life plus five years of imprisonment.
After Patchen order the case bound over for trial, Flanagan's public defender Kurt Infanger asked the judge to lower Flanagan's bond from $50,000 cash or surety to a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.
But Assistant District Attorney Dan Itzen objected, saying Flanagan has five prior instances of failure to comply with the court, a failure to appear in court on a recent traffic violation, and that Flanagan himself has said he "'tends to run'" when confronted by law enforcement.
Patchen agreed with Itzen. He added that even though there's a "no contact" provision in his bond, he's concerned about the safety of the victim and the seriousness of the kidnapping charge. Patchen kept the bond at $50,000, and Flanagan remains in custody.
A trial date will be set later.
During the preliminary hearing, Itzen called Casper Police Detective Aaron Trujillo to testify.
Much of what Trujillo said was in the affidavit filed with circuit court.
Trujillo said police responded to a 911 call in the 1300 block of South Cedar Street on May 30. A witness said his daughters were outside their house and they saw a couple arguing. The summoned him and he went outside to see the man hit a woman and carry her in a "cradle-style" carry into the van.
The man described the van to police, and they located it about 45 minutes later on South Poplar Street near the Sunrise Shopping Center.
An officer got out of his patrol car and approached the van. He saw the victim banging on the rear window of the van, screaming for help.
Flanagan then drove about four blocks. He remained in the driver's seat, so officers pulled him from the van and took him into custody.
Trujillo interviewed the victim at the hospital, he told Itzen. She told him she was at a residence mowing a lawn. She asked a passer-by for a cigarette and told the passer-by she would mow his lawn in return. Flanagan became upset and started to argue with her. She told Trujillo that Flanagan picked her up and put her in the second row of seats in the van.
However, she did not remember how she entered the van, Trujillo said.
Another person, Kevin Simmons, was driving but soon stopped and said he didn't want to be involved with what Flanagan was doing. Simmons told Trujillo he exited the van and Flanagan began driving.
Trujillo recounted the victim's statements that Flanagan put her in a headlock and strangled her. The victim said he did this between 10 and 15 times, and she foamed at the mouth and vomited.
As they were driving, Flanagan told the victim he wanted to kill them both by driving off Casper Mountain, Trujillo said.
Trujillo also interviewed Flanagan, who claimed the victim drank two or three half-pints of vodka that day. They had been arguing because he didn't want her to drive. Flanagan also said she had made a statement that she was suicidal, so he wanted to drive her to the Wyoming Behavioral Institute for treatment.
Flanagan also said he knew he was being followed near the Sunrise Shopping Center and didn't want to stop because there were two warrants for his arrest.
Infanger cross-examined Trujillo, and asked him if anyone saw the victim trying to resist him. The detective responded no one saw her resist.
Infanger told Patchen that a kidnapping has to be an action with one person using force to harm another, but that didn't happen in this case because the victim didn't resist. It also would have been hard for Flanagan to both drive the van and choke the victim.
Regarding the strangulation accusation, Infanger said the victim vomited possibly as the result of drinking vodka.
But Patchen agreed with Itzen that probable cause existed for the commission of kidnapping and strangulation.