Austin resident pleads guilty to choking charge

Published 10:36 am Thursday, June 6, 2013

An Austin man charged with sexually assaulting and attempting to strangle his ex-girlfriend in Albert Lea last year has pleaded guilty to a charge of domestic assault by strangulation.

Andres Barrera Jr., 36, entered the plea in Freeborn County District Court on Wednesday. It was classified as an Alford plea, in which a defendant maintains his innocence but recognizes there is sufficient evidence to convict, usually with stiffer penalties.

A plea agreement is recommending probation for five years with a possibility of 15 months in prison if Barrera violates his probation.

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Barrera initially was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, first-degree burglary and domestic assault by strangulation, but the Freeborn County Attorney’s Office in April amended the charges to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and the strangulation charge.

Court documents state Barrera reportedly showed up unwanted outside the ex-girlfriend’s house on Jan. 3, 2012, forced his way inside, where he forced the woman into a bedroom, sexually assaulted her and attempted to strangle her.

The woman’s two youngest children were home at the time.

His sentencing is slated for Sept. 12.