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Border Patrol agent accused of attacking couple with hatchet in Escondido

July 14, 2009 | 12:24 pm

A U.S. Border Patrol agent has pleaded not guilty to charges that he attacked a sleeping couple with a hatchet in an Escondido home while he was off-duty.

Gamalier Reyes Rivera, 32, may have mistaken the woman for his estranged wife, prosecutors said. Rivera allegedly went to the home where his wife and their daughter were living about 1 a.m. on July 9 and began hacking at a couple in one of the bedrooms.

Rivera's wife was sleeping in another bedroom and was unhurt. The woman was injured in the legs; the 29-year-old man suffered hacks to his arms, shoulders and neck and remains hospitalized in critical condition.

In a brief court hearing Monday in Vista Superior Court, Rivera's bail was set at $10 million. Deputy Dist. Atty. George Loyd said Rivera's knowledge of the border region makes him a flight risk. Rivera faces seven felony counts.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego