Port Angeles man sentenced to 15 months for assault in wooded area

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man has been sentenced to a little more than a year in state prison after pleading guilty to assaulting a 17-year-old girl in a secluded wooded area off U.S. Highway 101 in September.

Phillip Benjamin Mosqueda, 19, forced the girl, whom Mosqueda knew, into the sport utility vehicle of Christopher James Berlinger, 21, on Sept. 25 and later beat her until she vomited after Berlinger drove them to a wooded area off Elwha River Road north of the Highway 101 junction with state Highway 112, according to Port Angeles police.

Mosqueda pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to one count each of second-degree assault and harassment-threats to kill, both of which are domestic-violence-related, and one count of second-degree malicious mischief.

He was sentenced to 15 months in prison and 18 months of community custody during a Feb. 20 hearing in Clallam County Superior Court presided over by Judge George L. Wood.

Mosqueda also must pay victim restitution, to be set at an April 4 hearing, according to Superior Court records.

Mosqueda was listed Thursday on the roster of the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.

Berlinger sentencing

Berlinger pleaded guilty in December to one count of unlawful imprisonment and is set to be sentenced Wednesday.

Karen Unger, Berlinger’s defense attorney, told the court during a Superior Court October hearing that Berlinger has a mental disability and is easily influenced by others.

Police gave this account of the events leading to Mosqueda’s arrest:

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.

He later told police the assault lasted between two and 2 hours.

The girl eventually was dropped off at her home in Port Angeles at about 8 p.m.

Police arrested Berlinger on Sept. 26 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 in Port Angeles.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 01. 2014 5:27PM
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