A Kalispell man was sentenced in Flathead County District Court Thursday for beating a man with a golf club during a road rage assault on July 4, 2013.
Andrew Taylor Nelson, 20, was given a five-year deferred sentence and ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution for his involvement in an assault of Antonio Valencia outside the Ferndale Market last year. Judge Ted Lympus also recommended that Nelson go to boot camp.
Nelson was one of three men who followed Valencia in a green Subaru last Independence Day and then beat him in front of a small group of people. Valencia told investigators that the Subaru had been tailgating him, and that he pulled into the parking lot at the Ferndale Market in an attempt to get away from them. Nelson hit Valencia repeatedly with a golf club until it broke.
“I want to apologize for the decision I’ve made,” Nelson said moments before he was sentenced. “I wish I could take everything back.”
Nelson, who was 19 years old at the time of the incident, initially pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. In November, he changed his plea to guilty on the charge of assault with a weapon and in exchange prosecutors dropped the aggravated assault charge.
At the sentencing, County Attorney Ed Corrigan asked the judge to give Nelson a five-year sentence with all but six months suspended, a term that was already served in the Flathead County jail last year.
Nelson’s attorney argued that the young man had a rough upbringing and that he was still young enough to get his life back on track. They also noted that this was his first felony conviction. However, County Attorney Corrigan noted that Nelson had an extensive juvenile record, including burglary, theft and family assault.
In the end, Lympus handed down a five-year deferred sentence, during which time he’ll remain under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections, and strongly recommended Nelson go to boot camp.
“You just turned 20 years old and you’ve got a lot of life left,” the judge said. “I’m giving you an opportunity here, but if you blow it, the consequences will be severe.”
A deferred imposition of sentence to the Department of Corrections means the felony charge will be dismissed from his record if he succeeds.
The two other men involved with the assault, Ryan Horn and Gaige Christopher Mower, were sentenced earlier this year. Horn was given a six-month suspended sentence in January after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault. Mower was given a six-month suspended, a $500 fine and ordered to do 50 hours of community service after he was found guilty of misdemeanor assault at a jury trial earlier this year.
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