(Mankato, MN) – A Cleveland man is facing criminal charges, accused of punching and strangling the mother of his children as she drove him to a court appearance.

Twenty-three-year-old Gerardo Elias Martinez Jr. was charged Friday in Blue Earth County Court with felony counts of domestic assault by strangulation, and tampering with a witness.

According to the criminal complaint, 911 received two calls coming from inside a vehicle on Highway 169 near Highway 60 on February 5 just after 9 a.m.  The victim told police she had been driving Martinez to a court appearance in Mankato when they began to argue and Martinez punched her several times on the side of her face and head.  When she attempted to call 911, Martinez grabbed the cellphone from her, then took the charging cord and wrapped it around her neck, according to the victim’s account to authorities.  The victim and Martinez’s child was a passenger in the vehicle at the time, according to court documents.

The criminal complaint says the victim was able to pull the phone cord away from her neck and stop on a highway ramp.    Martinez exited the vehicle and was picked up by a Chevy pickup.  Police later stopped the pickup on Highway 22, according to the complaint.

Police say the victim’s cheek was swollen and bruised and her earlobe was a purplish color.  The victim had a second phone with her; a 911-only cellphone provided by a domestic assault victim’s advocacy group, according to the complaint.

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