GREAT FALLS – A California man was denied a change of venue for his pending trial in Cascade County Court on Wednesday.
Michael Echeverria was charged with kidnapping and assault in September of 2017.
The defense argued in court that there is a preconceived prejudice in the case against Echeverria due to the victim’s connections to law enforcement and pre-trial publicity.
The prosecution argued that there is no evidence of the case being treated differently than any other case in court.
The prosecution also argued that the defense failed to show a burden of proof for the change of venue.
During the hearing, Echeverria also plead not guilty to a new charge for sexual assault without consent.
The prosecution stated that they received the DNA evidence and decided to add the new charge.
The trial date has been set for September 17.
(SEPTEMBER 8, 2017) Michael Echeverria made his initial court appearance in Great Falls on Friday, charged with several felonies for reportedly assaulting a woman and stealing her purse at the Best Western Heritage Inn in Great Falls.
According to court documents, a police officer was called to the hotel about a reported disturbance. When the officer arrived, he found Echeverria in a hallway – already handcuffed by another officer, and with a purse strapped over his shoulder.
After entering the hotel room, the officer found a woman naked on the floor and covered in blood. The woman had a laceration near her right temple.
There was blood spattered on the floor, walls, and furniture of the room.
The documents state that after the woman was taken to the hospital, she reported having been in a relationship with Echeverria for four years and being separated for about the last six weeks.
The woman and Echeverria argued, which escalated into a physical fight.
The documents state that Echeverria pulled the woman from the bed and hit her with his fists.
As she tried to leave the room, he knocked her down and hit her stomach, chest, face, and arms.
Witnesses in neighboring rooms reported hearing violent noises, screaming, profanity, and furniture breaking.
Court documents state that the victim has “multiple injuries all over her body.”
Authorities also learned that Echeverria had made threatening phone calls to the woman’s family, and the woman could be heard screaming in the background.
Court documents also state that the victim’s sister received text messages from the victim’s phone which stated: “your scum (sic),” “death to all white scum,” and “death to your children.”
Echeverria has been charged with three felonies including aggravated kidnapping, assault with a weapon, and robbery, as well as misdemeanor partner/family member assault, misdemeanor theft, and misdemeanor “privacy in communications” charge.
Prosecutors requested that bond for Echeverria be set at $150,000.