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Bay Area Man Charged with Choking Woman on Flight

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A Bay Area man who allegedly choked and punched a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight has been charged with assault on an aircraft causing serious injury.

Lawrence Wells was arrested Wednesday on a federal indictment. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

City News Service says the 54-year-old Richmond man appeared in a Los Angeles court Wednesday but wasn’t asked to enter a plea. It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Federal prosecutors say Wells was 10 minutes into a flight from LA to San Francisco on Oct. 18 when he attacked a woman seated in front of him, punching her in the head and choking her.

The pilot declared an emergency and turned back.