A Billings man with a record of beating criminal charges pleaded not guilty Tuesday to new felony drug and domestic violence charges.
Benjamin Quinn McChesney, 33, appeared for arraignment before District Judge Russell Fagg after previously posting a $50,000 bond. McChesney denied felony charges of possessing drugs for sale and aggravated assault and a misdemeanor assault.
Over McChesney’s objection, Fagg ordered the man to have no contact with the victim, his wife, until the case is resolved. The woman attended the hearing but did not speak when McChesney’s court-appointed lawyer said the couple wished to remain together and not be separated while the case was pending.
“I know this is hard, but it’s for your own good,” the judge told the woman. The couple can attend counseling sessions, he said, but must not arrive or depart together.
McChesney is accused of choking his wife until she passed out and slamming her head into a car window. The incident was reported May 19. The drug charge alleges McChesney had nearly 13 ounces of marijuana at the couple’s home.
Similar domestic violence charges against McChesney were dismissed in April after his wife, who was 19 at the time, said she lied to investigators about an incident in which she said her husband slammed her head into a dashboard and threatened her with a knife.
In 2004, McChesney was convicted in federal court of taking part in a methamphetamine conspiracy and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The conviction was dismissed last year after McChesney argued that he had ineffective representation at trial.