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May 28, 2022

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Man pleads to lesser charge for trying to shove teen into luggage at Vancouver Target

By , Columbian staff writer

A Vancouver man was sentenced Monday to three months in jail for trying to shove a 16-year-old girl into luggage at a local Target store in October.

Francis Anthony Azzarella II, 29, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to a charge of third-degree assault. He entered an “in re Barr” plea, meaning he pleaded guilty to the lesser related charge he didn’t commit to avoid the risk of conviction on a greater offense. He was originally charged with second-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation.

The plea agreement means Azzarella does not have to register as a kidnapping offender, according to Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Ryan.

Judge Derek Vanderwood ordered the agreed-upon sentence, and said he thinks it meets the balance of punishment for Azzarella’s actions while also allowing him to seek treatment for substance abuse. Investigators said Azzarella’s blood-alcohol content was 0.20 that night.

Vancouver police were dispatched around 8:40 p.m. Oct. 2 to the Target at 7809 N.E. Vancouver Plaza Drive, Suite C for a report of an assault that had just occurred. The officer contacted the 16-year-old girl in the loss prevention office, the affidavit says.

The teen said that while she was shopping in the electronics department with her friend, an unknown man, later identified by police as Azzarella, approached them. Azzarella was carrying luggage from the store and set it on the floor, court records state.

He then grabbed the girl and tried pushing her into the luggage. The teen’s friend pulled her away. When she asked what he was doing, Azzarella allegedly said, “I’m trying to fit her sexy (expletive) in here,” according to the affidavit.

Another shopper, Samuel White, intervened and escorted Azzarella away from the girls, court records say.

The teen told police she was in fear and believed Azzarella was trying to kidnap her, the affidavit states.

His defense attorney, Lisa Toth, told the judge Monday that Azzarella has no history of assault or person-to-person crimes.

Azzarella apologized to the girl during his sentencing. He said he feels bad about what happened and that he wants to go to treatment.

In written statements that Ryan read to the judge, the girl and her mother said they disagreed with the plea bargain, especially with the fact that Azzarella will not have to register as a kidnapping offender.

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