A 19-year-old Cheyenne man accused of strangling his 19-year-old girlfriend to death has been bound over to Laramie County District Court.

Circuit Court Judge Sean Chambers on Friday found probable cause to bind Charles Rees Karn over on a first-degree murder charge.

According to Cheyenne Police Department spokeswoman Alex Farkas, officers were dispatched to a 911 hang-up call at a camper in the 4700 block of Cactus Way at about 12:19 a.m. on June 15.

Officers arrived to find Karn's girlfriend, Phoenix Cerenil, of Cheyenne, unresponsive with apparent signs of strangulation.

Cerenil was taken by ambulance to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, where she died two days later.

According to preliminary hearing testimony, prior to calling 911, Karn made approximately 12 Snapchat videos of himself smothering Cerenil -- one in which he was covering her mouth and nose with a blanket while she was unresponsive -- and called his mother saying that Cerenil wasn't breathing.

He then reportedly lied to responding officers, saying "he had pushed Phoenix off the bed in the camper after she bit his finger and that he believed she hit her head," before later telling his mother and a deputy at the jail who was fingerprinting him "that he had strangled Phoenix."

Police say Karn also told his mother during a jail call, "I playfully put my arm and my hand around her throat and she just chomped my finger so I literally just strangled her ... and left her dead, falling on the floor." Karn then said that he blacked out and didn't remember any of it.

Karn's attorney acknowledged that there was sufficient probable cause to bind him over on a second-degree murder charge, but said, "The evidence that we've heard here does not suggest premeditation."

The state rebutted the argument, saying, "It wasn't just a strangulation. He took it the entire way to the point where she was unresponsive for two days before finally dying of her injuries."

"The state believes that given all (the evidence) ... a reasonable jury could likely find that Mr. Karn knew what he was doing and he just kept going to the point that ultimately Phoenix died."

Karn, who could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted, remains in the Laramie County Detention Center on a $250,000 cash bond.

His next court appearance will be an arraignment in District Court, which has yet to be scheduled.

For more information about this case, check out our earlier posts:

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