A Pasco man pleaded innocent to allegations he strangled an acquaintance who was giving him a ride, then eventually stole her car as she escaped outside a convenience store.
Joel Cervantes, 33, has a trial date set July 9 for second-degree assault and theft of a motor vehicle.
Court documents show that on April 23, the woman had agreed to drive Cervantes from a friend's house to a nearby location. Once inside her 1999 Nissan Sentra, Cervantes allegedly grabbed the woman by the back of her hair, then grabbed her throat and pushed her against the seat.
The victim told Kennewick officers she was unable to breathe and feared he would kill her, documents said.
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Cervantes forced the woman into the car's back seat, then hopped into the driver's seat and took off at speeds nearing 100 mph, court documents said.
The victim was able to pull her keys out of the ignition when Cervantes was stopped near a store, but he got the keys back. The woman then ran from the Nissan as Cervantes drove off, documents said.
The car was stopped later in Franklin County with Cervantes behind the wheel after he allegedly tried to elude law enforcement.