KENNEWICK — A West Richland man has been accused of sexually assaulting a cab driver and holding her against her will.
Richard Todd Schute, 64, almost missed his first court appearance Thursday in Benton County Superior Court, showing up after all cases had been called.
A warrant had been issued for his arrest, but he told Judge Robert Swisher that when he bailed out of jail Wednesday night he didn't realize he had court Thursday morning. He rushed to court just in time to have Swisher quash the warrant and set his arraignment for next week.
Schute is charged with unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.
According to court documents, Schute had been at the West Richland Golf Course on Saturday and called for a cab ride home.
The driver who picked up Schute said he was intoxicated and made sexual comments to her as she drove him home, documents said. She asked him to stop and told him she was married.
Schute was sitting behind the driver and when she got to his home, he allegedly held her door shut while using the other hand to fondle her chest, document said.
He then reportedly told her that if she wasn't married he would "have her naked in the van right then," documents said.
The victim struggled for about two minutes, trying to push Schute away, documents said. He then exited the taxi.
Police were called and when they first knocked, he didn't open the door and told them to go away, documents said.
When police identified themselves, Schute opened door and was completely naked, documents said.
Man accused of stalking misses court hearing
KENNEWICK — A Kennewick man accused of stalking and assaulting his estranged wife is now wanted for skipping a court hearing.
Gerardo Villamar, 41, failed to appear in Benton County Superior Court for his arraignment Thursday. He's charged with second-degree assault and stalking. Both charges include domestic violence allegations.
Villamar was arrested by Kennewick police April 7 at the victim's workplace, a day after he was found sitting in a car at her apartment complex.
Officers received an anonymous call about a suspicious person in the parking lot and found Villamar sitting in a car that matched the caller's description, court documents said.
Villamar said he was waiting for a friend, but when asked about his friend, he reportedly giggled and said he was spying on his wife, documents said.
He said they were separated, but he suspected she was sleeping with other men. He told police he had been there for 30 minutes, but police said the caller said he had been parked there for a few hours.
Villamar was told to go home and he left. Officers then went to talk to his wife, Maria Villamar. She told them Gerardo had been following her since they separated in November.
She said he had taken a key to her apartment from one of their children and has been entering her home without permission, documents said.
Gerardo Villamar reportedly often goes inside and waits for her to come home and also has gone inside while she is sleeping, she told police.
She said she has woken up to find him standing at the foot of her bed, documents said.
Maria Villamar said her husband confronted her at a birthday party in March, threw her to the ground and kicked her. She said he also tried to hit her another time, but their son got between them, documents said.
About three weeks earlier, she said her husband let himself in while she was sleeping and she was awakened by him choking her because he was mad and accused her of seeing another man, documents said.
She said she could not breathe and thought he was going to kill her.
Man admits to sexually assaulting girl under 12
KENNEWICK — A Kennewick man is facing life in prison after admitting to sexually assaulting a young girl.
Daniel Venegas Perez, 25, pleaded guilty Thursday in Benton County Superior Court to one count of first-degree rape of a child.
The girl was younger than 12 when he touched her inappropriately between February 2009 and June 2010, documents said. Perez was a trusted adult to the girl's family.
Perez has a similar case pending in Grant County Superior Court involving the same victim. Defense attorney Larry Zeigler told the court that Perez will withdraw his guilty plea if Grant County doesn't agree to drop the case.
Perez faces a maximum sentence of life behind bars and a minimum sentence of seven years and nine months to 10 years and three months.
Prosecutors will recommend the low-end of the minimum sentence and won't object to a special sex offender sentencing alternative if the counselor, Department of Corrections and the victim's family agree.
Perez could receive a shorter sentence and be ordered to complete treatment if he gets the special sentencing alternative.
His sentencing was set for June 2.
Pasco mom faces up to year in jail in car chase
KENNEWICK — A young Pasco mother could be sentenced to a year in prison for leading police on a chase while her toddler was in the car.
Nichole Ashley Cantu, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday in Benton County Superior Court to attempting to elude pursing police with an endangerment enhancement.
She faces a standard range of up to two months in jail, but the endangerment enhancement could mean a one-year prison term, which prosecutors said they will seek.
Defense attorney Sal Mendoza Jr. said his client is hoping to take advantage of the new family and offender sentencing alternative.
The alternative has been in effect since June 10. It is designed to allow nonviolent defendants with minor children to get supervision and treatment instead of serve prison time.
Cantu has two daughters, ages 2 and 6. She will be evaluated to see if she's eligible, then a judge will decide if she gets it. She is to be sentenced May 5.
Cantu was arrested March 1 in Kennewick after an officer ran her license plate and saw she had multiple warrants for her arrest, documents said.
The officers, in an unmarked minivan equipped with emergency lights and sirens, tried to stop her, but she failed to pull over, documents said.
She reportedly looked around nervously and appeared panicked before accelerating away.
She ran a red light at Carmichael and Vineyard drives, sped through a red light at 10th Avenue and Garfield Street and almost hit a vehicle in the intersection, documents said.
Officers estimated Cantu was going about 70 mph in a 35 mph zone.
The officers lost sight of Cantu, but later found her car abandoned in the 2900 block of South Fruitland Street. She and her daughter were found in a backyard at 2905 S. Fruitland St., documents said.