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Trial begins Monday for man accused of assaulting elderly woman

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | October 17, 2020 12:00 AM

A Polson man charged with severely beating and choking an elderly wheelchair-bound woman at a group home in February is set to go on trial next week.

Harley Gene Press, 25, pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated assault in March.

Court documents indicate he may present a defense of mental disease or defect. A jury trial set for Oct. 8 was canceled and a bench trial was scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19.

According to a court document, a Polson police officer was called to a group home located on 13th Avenue West in Polson for an assault report.

When he spoke to a staff member, she said Press had beaten a 76-year-old woman. The victim was identified as “Jane Doe” in court documents.

The officer viewed surveillance footage and saw Press approach the woman, who was in a wheelchair. He saw Press allegedly hit the woman on the shoulder and neck. The officer said Press then “reared back” and violently hit the woman in the head four times.

The staff member approached Press and he stopped. But when the employee went to get another employee, the man allegedly choked her.

Press is facing a maximum term of 20 years in the Montana State Prison. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on $25,000 bond.

Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.