Just after 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, Missoula Police Officers responded to the report of a disturbance at a residence in the 1200 block of 34th Street. Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh explains.

“When officers arrived, they found two males outside who had apparently been fighting with each other,” Welsh said. “After the investigation, officers determined that the caller was one of the males involved and had actually thrown the other male out for fighting with his girlfriend inside the apartment. The male forced his way back into the apartment and continued fighting with the caller.”

Welsh said the man was identified as 23-year-old Zechariah Smith. The complainant told an officer that Smith and Smith’s girlfriend were in the back room, and he heard something about a knife being involved. The complainant told an officer that he had seen Smith “putting his hands on” the woman.

An officer located the woman in the bedroom. She said that she had ended her relationship with Smith the day before due to his constant physical and verbal abuse.

The woman reported that Smith picked up a purple bed sheet, twirled it around his hands, and went after her. She said that Smith held the sheet between his hands and wrapped it around her neck, pulling in opposite directions. She said that she managed to stand up and kick the walls, which loosened the sheet enough that she could yell out for help. She estimated that she had been strangled for between 30-60 seconds. She said that she had difficulty breathing during that time, and was very close to passing out.

She disclosed that Smith had strangled her with bed sheets before, and had tried suffocating her with pillows. She took a photo of her neck just after the attack, and showed the photo to an officer. The officer observed a clear color differentiation under the woman’s chin along her jaw line and up to the base of her ear. Court documents indicate Smith adamantly denied strangling the woman with a bed sheet.

Smith was charged with felony strangulation, felony burglary, and assault. Smith's charging documents can be found right here.

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