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For the week of May 1 - 7, 2002


Furlott sentenced to six months in work center

Convicted of brutal beating outside bar

Express Staff Writer

A man convicted of beating a Casino bar patron into a coma last summer was sentenced Monday to six months in a community work center and given a suspended prison term of three to six years.

Fifth District Judge James May handed down the sentence against Boise resident George Furlott, 28, at the conclusion of a hearing in district court in Hailey.

A jury had convicted Furlott in March of aggravated battery, following a trial that produced contradictory versions of the events that occurred outside the bar on Ketchum’s Main Street last July.

Prosecution witnesses said the 270-pound Furlott attacked intoxicated patron Kenneth Nye, who weighs 150 pounds, by breaking a bottle against his head, knocking him to the ground, then pummeling him in the face while his head bounced off the concrete, according to one witness, "like dribbling a basketball." Furlott and two of his friends contended that Nye had punched one of them first, and Furlott moved in to defend him, but did not hit Nye once he was on the ground.

"He was called to protect a friend and boss," Furlott’s attorney, Cheri Hicks, said during Monday’s sentencing hearing. "He simply went too far."

Hicks said that when Furlott saw his friend being attacked, instinct took over.

Deputy Prosecuting Marilyn Paul contended that "it is not instinct to beat an unconscious person until he is almost dead."

Paul requested a minimum sentence of a fixed eight-year prison term.

"It is hard to conceive of a clearer case showing why there is a 15-year maximum penalty for aggravated battery," she said. "We believe that this is a case where the maximum penalty is warranted."

Paul pointed out that Furlott had already been convicted in Ada County of misdemeanor battery and malicious injury to property, by kicking in the door of a police car, and had pleaded guilty to a petit theft charge reduced from felony burglary.

"His behavior has not changed for the better, and in fact it has escalated," Paul said.

Hicks asked May to take into consideration the fact that Furlott’s wife and three children depend on him for financial support.

Furlott told May that he had never "felt so bad and so sorry."

"I want to raise my kids the right way," he said. "I won’t ever get into this situation ever again."

Before announcing his sentence, May said he was not inclined to believe the defense’s version of events that July night, pointing out that Nye was "helplessly intoxicated."

May said there had been a recent rash of aggravated assaults and batteries in the area, referring to a knife-wielding assailant on the bike path and a woman who went to a Ketchum police officer’s home with a loaded gun.

"The trouble with aggravated assaults and aggravated batteries is that they come close to homicide," May said. "The defendant did viciously, with uncontrolled anger, continue to strike the victim. So far as the court is concerned, death was a distinct possibility."

May said he would retain jurisdiction over the defendant until he reads a report from the work center at the end of Furlott’s stay there. That means he will review the case, and could impose a prison sentence if Furlott receives a negative report.

In an interview following the hearing, Hicks said she was happy with the sentence.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.