Salem man charged with attacking woman at Minto-Brown Monday

A Salem man faces charges alleging he strangled and tried to rape a woman as she jogged through Minto-Brown Island Park on Monday.

David Belluno, 27, was charged with attempted kidnapping, attempted rape, strangulation and assault in Marion County Circuit Court, court records showed.

Belluno was also accused of attacking a different woman at knifepoint at the south Salem park in September 2018. A Marion County Circuit Court judge dropped those charges three years ago after finding the man wasn’t fit for trial because of a mental illness or disability. Prosecutors refiled those charges Tuesday along with charges in the weekend incident.

The refiled charges previously dismissed in the 2018 case are kidnapping, sexual abuse, attempted rape, attempted unlawful sexual penetration, unlawful use of a weapon and assault.

Around 5:20 p.m. on Monday afternoon, a woman reported that a man had attacked her while she was running on a path through the south Salem park, according to a Salem Police Department statement.

The victim reported that the man started following her after she passed him. When she tried to take a different path to avoid high water, the man grabbed her by the throat and began pulling her away.

The woman fought back and was able to get away from the suspect to a safe location and call for police, the department’s statement said.

While police were looking for the suspect at the scene, a man called 911 seeking assistance and saying he was stranded in an area of the park with high water.

Officers and a fire department water rescue crew rescued the man, who police determined was the suspect in the attack based on the victim’s description.

Police arrested Belluno after he received a medical evaluation and was cleared at Salem Hospital. The victim was not hospitalized, according to the department statement.

“The woman in this incident is an incredible person,” said Deputy Chief Jake Burke of the department’s Criminal Investigations Section in the statement. “She was able to get away from the attacker and call for help. She is tenacious, and we’re glad she is safe.”

Belluno was booked into Marion County Jail, where he was being held without bail as of Tuesday afternoon.

In September 2018, a woman was walking at night near Salem’s pedestrian bridge when a man knocked her down, dragged her into the brush and assaulted her at knifepoint. The woman was able to fight off her attacker, run away and call the police, who arrested Belluno in connection with the incident.

A psychologist at the time diagnosed Belluno with a mild intellectual disability and determined that he was unable help in his own defense.

Judge Courtland Geyer determined that because Belluno’s mental health was unlikely to improve to the point that he could stand trial, Oregon law required that the charges be dismissed.

Katie Suver, former Marion County deputy district attorney, told Salem Reporter in 2019 that Belluno’s release magnified what she called a “hole in the process.”

Suver said at the time that an expert hired by her office determined that, with the right treatment, Belluno might improve enough to face the charges, but Geyer ruled that he couldn’t mandate such treatment. 

The judge dismissed Belluno’s charges “without prejudice,” meaning they could be refiled.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.