Murder Charge For Cheyenne Man Accused Of Strangling Woman Because She Bit His Finger

After his girlfriend died over the weekend, Laramie County DA on Tuesday charged Charles Rees Karn of Cheyenne with first-degree murder for allegedly strangling her because she bit his finger.

Clair McFarland

June 20, 20232 min read

Charles rees karn mug
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A man accused of strangling his girlfriend after she bit his finger in their Cheyenne camper now faces a first-degree murder charge since the victim has died, Laramie County’s top prosecutor said.

Sylvia Hackl, Laramie County District Attorney, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that her office had “just” added a first-degree murder against Charles Rees Karn, 19.  

The DA’s office charged Karn with aggravated assault and strangulation of a household member, both 10-year felonies, after police arrested him Thursday for allegedly strangling his girlfriend Phoenix Cerenil.  

Karn told police he pushed Cerenil off the bed because she bit his finger, according to the case affidavit. The document says Karn also told another person that he had strangled his girlfriend.  

Emergency personnel rushed Cerenil to the hospital. She died two days later.  

Cerenil had abrasions on both sides of her neck, a bruise above her navel and a cut on her inner right thigh near her pubic area. Her doctor told investigators that Cerenil had brain damage from prolonged oxygen deprivation, the affidavit says.  

No Death Penalty 

Hackl said so far the case isn’t looking like a death-penalty case, though she's open to considering it.  

A first-degree murder conviction is punishable by life in prison with or without parole, or the death penalty.  

“I’ve done a fair amount of death-penalty work in my career,” said Hackl. “And while every homicide is devastating, I don’t — based upon what I know now — I don’t think we have the aggravating circumstances required to make a death penalty case.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter