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Hillsboro man faces assault charges in attempted strangling case

A convicted murderer from Connecticut was arraigned in Hillsboro’s district court yesterday on a new felony charge, this one for allegedly trying to strangle his girlfriend.

Ciro Scognamiglio, 59, has been held on $250,000 cash bail since his arrest yesterday morning.

Scognamiglio was not at home on Vine Street when the Hillsboro police responded to a call about an assault shortly after 6 a.m., according to a police affidavit. His girlfriend told the police he had “lost control and ‘freaked out’ on her,” grabbing her by the neck, the affidavit states.

While the police were interviewing his girlfriend, Scognamiglio walked back into the driveway. According to the affidavit, Scognamiglio told the officer who went outside to meet him that he and his girlfriend had fought that morning.

“Scognamiglio stated they had been having an argument about her not sleeping with him, and she had been yelling and screaming so he grabbed her and forced her into the love seat,” the affidavit states.

When he described grabbing the woman, Scognamiglio held his hands in a circle with the tips of his thumbs and his index fingers touching, the affidavit states. The officer then took him into custody.

His girlfriend made the same gesture to the officers inside the house as she told them about the fight. She told the police her boyfriend had pushed her onto the couch while he was strangling her and pushed his knee into her chest until she couldn’t breathe or speak, according to the affidavit.

Scognamiglio faces one felony charge of second-degree assault and two misdemeanor charges of simple assault. At his arraignment just hours later, he did not respond to the felony charge but pleaded not guilty to the two lesser counts.

His defense attorney asked the judge to reduce bail, while Hillsboro prosecuting Officer Derek Brown stood before the bench and listed Scognamiglio’s lengthy criminal history.

That list included a 25-year sentence on a 1983 murder conviction in Connecticut. Scognamiglio did not serve the entirety of that sentence in state prison, his defense attorney told the judge.

But Scognamiglio’s record begins in the 1970s and ranges across convictions for drugs, larceny and assault, Brown said. He was also convicted of second-degree assault in New Hampshire, a charge related to a 2001 fight with another woman.

Scognamiglio is also facing a felony charge in Belknap County for operating a motor vehicle after his license was revoked for repeated drunken driving arrests, Brown said, and he has been charged as a fugitive from justice in the past.

And when he stood before the judge at noon, Scognamiglio had already violated the conditions of his bail set that day. He had been ordered to have no contact with his girlfriend, Brown said, but he called her on his cell phone from the police department yesterday morning.

“Given the dangerousness, the fact that he has a violent history, the fact that he has shown he has violated restraining orders in the past and he’s been a fugitive from justice and had a violation of bail, the state has asked the cash bail to be maintained,” Brown said.

The judge ordered that the bail remain at $250,000 cash. Scognamiglio is due back in court Dec. 31 for a probable cause hearing.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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