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Brainerd officer credited for CPR efforts with assault victim

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

A 19-year-old Brainerd man who allegedly left a woman unconscious and not breathing on the ground near the stairs of a Brainerd residence on Saturday was charged Tuesday in Crow Wing District Court with first-degree attempted murder while committing domestic assault and felony domestic assault by strangulation.

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The suspect, Hunter James Scott Vidmar, also was charged with gross misdemeanor domestic assault, disorderly conduct and underage consumption.

Vidmar was arraigned in front of Judge Eric Askegaard. Askegaard set bail/bond at $100,000 with conditions and $250,000 without conditions. Conditions include that Vidmar cannot have any contact with the victim, cannot leave the state, must make all court appearances and cannot drink. The judge also set Vidmar’s next court appearance at 9 a.m. Aug. 27.

Police responded to a physical domestic dispute call at 2:27 a.m. Saturday to a residence on the 800 block of Walnut Street.

Brainerd Police Deputy Chief Mike Bestul said the domestic assault involved Vidmar and a woman who have a child in common. Bestul said upon arrival to the residence, the suspect had fled the scene and a female was unconscious and not breathing. Brainerd officer Justin Athman started CPR immediately and the female was resuscitated and then transported to Essential Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd.

Bestul said medical personnel indicated that if it wasn’t for the efforts of Athman, that the woman may have died.

“Officer Athman should be commended for his immediate medical response to the woman, who was unconscious and not breathing,” Bestul said. “This is a clear case where he saved a woman’s life who was a victim of domestic assault.”

According to the criminal complaint filed against Vidmar:

• The victim’s younger sister was sleeping in the bedroom when she was woke by loud yelling and banging on the walls. She exited the bedroom and observed Vidmar on top of the victim in the kitchen area. Vidmar had both hands around her neck and appeared to be squeezing hard. The sister could see and hear that the victim was having difficulty breathing. The victim tried to tell her sister to call 911. With his hands around her neck, Vidmar bounced the victim off the walls a few times and then dragged her out of the apartment and into the hallway. When Vidmar ran away, the sister saw the victim lying on the ground near the stairs not speaking or moving.

• Officer Athman found the victim on the floor at the top of the stairs and she was not breathing and was unconscious. Athman initiated CPR and was able to revive her. North Ambulance personnel credited the officer’s CPR as bringing her back to consciousness. Athman observed bruising around her neck and above her left eye. She was taken to the hospital.

• The victim later informed the officer that she and Vidmar had gotten into a verbal argument. The argument escalated and at one point Vidmar jumped on her in the kitchen area and began strangling her. Vidmar placed her in a head-lock and drug her out of the residence. The victim remembered being punched in the face and the next thing she remembered was seeing the officer’s face.

• When officers arrived at the scene, Vidmar was observed fleeing from the scene into a wooded area to the west. Law enforcement began to search for the defendant, who was apprehended at 4:59 a.m. and then transported to jail.

• While being arrested, Vidmar did attempt to inform the officers that he was in fact Skylor Hunter.

According to the probable cause court document:

• When officers handcuffed Vidmar, without saying anything, Vidmar said: “Is this about (the victim) hitting me in the head?” He was told of his right to remain silent but Vidmar continued talking and said how drunk the victim was and that he was the victim of assault, not her.

• In a Mirandized statement, he said that he was invited to the residence so they could work on their relationship issues. They started drinking and at one point, the victim got upset with Vidmar because they were “messing around” with other people while on a “break” from one another. Vidmar dumped out the alcohol and said the victim became more upset and slapped him. She yelled an expletive at him and struck him in the head with an empty alcohol container. As Vidmar was leaving, the victim told her sister to call the cops to get him in trouble and then she pushed him down the first flight of stairs. Officers did observe that he had “carpet burn” and bruising on his right forearm and left leg that he alleged to be from being assaulted from the victim.

• Vidmar denied any physical contact with the victim other than pushing her away when being struck by the alcohol container and he denied strangling her, too.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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