REDWOOD CITY -- A Las Vegas big rig driver pleaded not guilty Monday to holding hostage and strangling a Berkeley hitchhiker when she refused to have sex with him, prosecutors said.

Alfonso Suarez-Prendes, 49, entered the plea in San Mateo County court, 10 days after he was arrested on attempted murder, kidnapping and assault charges in San Mateo, deputy district attorney Karen Guidotti said. The man is accused of tying a 40-year-old woman by her neck to his truck seat after she shot down his sexual advances April 4 while on their way to San Francisco.

Suarez-Prendes reportedly met the woman at an East Bay truck stop and agreed during their conversation to drive her into the city, prosecutors said. The woman originally got in the car willingly, authorities said, unaware of the man's intentions.

According to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, the man became angry when she declined to have sex with him, and wrapped a "Load/Tow" strap twice around her neck before tying it to the raised portion of his driver's seat. He continued through San Francisco and down the Peninsula, refusing to let the woman out of the car.

Witnesses heard the woman yelling as the truck was briefly stopped in San Mateo and called police, San Mateo police Officer David Norris said. Officers pulled the truck over at 1:52 p.m. at Madison Street and El Camino and found the woman yelling for help inside of the cab.

The woman was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for her injuries and was released the same day, Wagstaffe said. Little information was available about the victim or why she was hitchhiking to San Francisco.


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Suarez-Prendes remains in jail on no bail status, Guidotti said. He will return to court April 24 for a preliminary hearing.

Contact Erin Ivie at eivie@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.