A Southern California man who is accused of beating and choking his wife near Half Moon Bay after she told him she wanted a divorce has pleaded not guilty to an attempted murder charge, according to the district attorney's office.
John Howard Hunt, 66, who lives in the San Diego County town of Julian, entered his plea Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Prosecutors allege that on May 4, Hunt's wife of 21 years told him over breakfast that she wanted to end their marriage, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
According to Wagstaffe, the following day, as the couple was driving down the coast, Hunt allegedly pulled off of state Highway 1 near Montara and asked his wife to get out of their car to give him a hug.
After she hugged him, Hunt allegedly grabbed his wife and started beating her head against the car, according to Wagstaffe.
Wagstaffe said he then threw her to the ground, climbed on top of her and tried to strangle her with his belt.
Hunt then allegedly forced his wife back into the car, hit her with a metal water bottle and started driving, according to prosecutors.
The wife was able to turn off the ignition, and exited the car and ran away when the vehicle came to a stop, Wagstaffe said.
Witnesses called the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, and Hunt was found sitting in his car and was arrested.
His wife, who still had a belt around her neck and was drifting in and out of consciousness, was flown to Stanford Hospital, Wagstaffe said.
Hunt's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.
Hunt is being held without bail in San Mateo County Jail. He is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on June 13.
He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
--Bay City News