Two men plead not guilty on kidnapping, assault counts
By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Phillip Benjamin Mosqueda, 19, pleaded not guilty Friday to one count each of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault with an aggravated circumstance, both of which are domestic violence-related.
Christopher James Berlinger, 21, of Port Angeles was charged with the same crimes as an accomplice, minus the domestic violence enhancements, and also pleaded not guilty Friday.
Berlinger allegedly drove Mosqueda and the girl, whom Mosqueda had known previously, from the intersection of 16th and I streets in Port Angeles at about 6 p.m. Sept. 25 to a wooded area off Elwha River Road north of the Highway 101 junction with state Highway 112.
Punched, kicked repeatedly
Once at the wooded area, the girl told city police, Mosqueda repeatedly punched her ribs and head inside the sport utility vehicle and eventually pulled her outside and punched and kicked her repeatedly, causing her to vomit.
After being arrested Sept. 26, Berlinger told police the assault lasted between 2 and 2½ hours.
During Berlinger’s arraignment Friday, Karen Unger, his defense attorney, said he has a mental disability and is easily influenced by others.
“He is subject to exploitation by others,” Unger said.
“He’s very willing, I believe, to cooperate with the state.”
Unger added: “Basically, he’s being charged as an accomplice for not stopping what this other person was doing.”
Berlinger’s grandmother, whom he had been living with up to two months ago, told the court Friday that he has never harmed anyone and that she would be able to take care of him were he released on his own recognizance.
“The court would be able to readdress conditions of release if either party notes it up,” Clallam County Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer said.
Rohrer kept Berlinger’s bail set at $50,000 and did not order his release Friday.
Berlinger was no longer listed on the Clallam County jail roster as of Saturday.
Mosqueda remained in the Clallam County jail Saturday on $250,000.
Berlinger is set to appear in Superior Court on Nov. 11 for a status hearing, with a preliminary jury trial date set for Dec. 2.
Mosqueda’s next court date has been set for Nov. 1, with a preliminary jury trial date slated for Nov. 18.
A police report filed in Superior Court gave this account:
Mosqueda forced the girl into Berlinger’s SUV at about 6 p.m. Sept. 25 and told him to drive to a secluded area, where he told the girl he should “cut her like a fish and leave her there.”
While the girl was being beaten outside of his car, Berlinger told police he got bored and began chopping at a nearby tree with a hatchet from the back of his SUV.
Berlinger said he tried to call 9-1-1 during the assault, but the call did not go through.
After the girl vomited, Mosqueda helped her back into the SUV, police said, and Berlinger drove the three of them to the Walmart in east Port Angeles, where Berlinger said Mosqueda bought everyone food.
The three ate the food in SUV, and the girl eventually was dropped off at her home in Port Angeles at about 8 p.m.
Police arrested Berlinger after pulling him over while he was driving along North Lee’s Creek Road in east Port Angeles.
Police arrested Mosqueda about an hour later at his parents’ house off South Golf Course Road.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 05. 2013 5:22PM