Oct. 25—FARMINGTON — An Illinois man accused of attempting to strangle his wife Monday and taking her phone so she couldn't call police made his first court appearance on Wednesday. A judge set bail Wednesday at either $15,000 cash or $7,500 cash with a supervised release agreement.
The alleged crime took place at the Farmington Motel at 489 Farmington Falls Road.
Cesar J. Vergara, 28, who lists Texas as his residence on his license but is said to be from Illinois, didn't enter a plea to a felony charge of aggravated assault and misdemeanor charge of obstructing report of a crime or injury.
Vergara faces other charges after leading several police agencies from Franklin and Androscoggin counties on a chase through seven towns on Monday. It ended when an Androscoggin County agency put down spike mats in Auburn and the SUV he was driving struck a utility pole, which appeared to be intentional, according to police reports.
Assistant District Attorney Claire Andrews asked that there be no contact between the couple due to the high bail rating and criminal history. Both Vergara and the victim wiped tears from their eyes during the proceeding.
Judge Sarah Churchill set the bail as Andrews requested and included the no contact provision.
The victim asked for contact saying the incident "didn't go down the way they say" it did. She asked to at least be able to call each other. The victim, who is not being identified because it is the Sun Journal's policy not to name victims, and suspect have been married for less than 5 months.
Vergara said, "She is all I have" for support, except God.
Since the charge is a felony, defense attorney Paul Corey said they would accept the bail but reserved the right to argue it at a later date.
Wednesday's proceedings happened largely over Zoom. The victim and court clerk were in the Farmington courtroom, but the suspect, prosecutor and defense attorneys and judge all appeared over Zoom.
According to Farmington officer Ryan Rosie's probable cause affidavit, he received a call about a disturbance in which two people were yelling at each other in a room at the Farmington Motel on Farmington Falls Road in Farmington.
Upon arrival at the motel, he was met in the driveway by four people who were all gesturing toward the road stating the guy just left and was headed toward town.
Rosie asked them if the woman was all right. They advised they didn't know.
Several witnesses explained they heard the woman yelling "get the (expletive) out," and after the room door opened, a motel employee ran inside to find a man, later identified as Vergara, on top of the female holding her down on the bed. The employee later explained to Rosie that she jumped on top of Vergara and pulled him off the victim onto the floor, breaking the night stand.
Rosie radioed dispatch with the vehicle description with Illinois registration, which Franklin County Sgt. Brandon Sholan saw on Wilton Road and started pursuing.
Rosie observed the victim crying and blood on her hands. She was "very distraught and breathing heavily," according to the affidavit. He also saw that the victim had a large abrasion at the base of the neck and was holding her hands on her throat.
The victim is a traveling nurse and was working as certified nursing assistant at the Harris House in Livermore Falls. She is from Illinois.
The victim had been in Maine for about two weeks on assignment. The argument had started the night before and continued Monday morning. According to the affidavit, she had hid the car keys in her pocket and tried to leave the motel, however, Vergara prevented her from going. She tried calling police but Vergara took her phone from her and threw it across the room. Vergara had removed his shirt and straddled her while using the shirt against her neck to choke her, according to Rosie's affidavit.
Rosie took several photos of her face, neck, forehead and eyes, all of which showed evidence of strangulation.
The couple has been together for two years but got married in June.
When Rosie asked if this had happened before, the victim explained to him that Vergara broke her arm last year and there is still a warrant out of Pennsylvania.
Vergara's next appearance in a Farmington court is Dec. 12, unless Corey, the defense attorney, asks the court to have bail reviewed sooner.
A conviction on the aggravated assault charge carries a maximum 10 years in prison and the obstruction charge is punishable by up to 364 days in jail. As of Wednesday afternoon, Vergara was still being held at Franklin County Detention Center.
NOTE: The wrong mugshot appeared with the story on Oct. 26. It was a reporter error.
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