Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Snow-shovel brawl resurfaces in court

Man who stabbed boss with hay hook gets chance at rehab


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Gavin Wade Freeman

A Rupert man convicted two years ago of stabbing his boss with a hay hook will get a chance to rehabilitate his life, courtesy of the Idaho Department of Correction.

Fifth District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee on Monday sentenced 31-year-old Gavin Wade Freeman to one-year incarceration under the state's "rider" program, under which convicted felons are offered rehabilitation, typically at the North Idaho Correctional Facility in Cottonwood.

Freeman was originally given a withheld judgment and three years probation when sentenced for aggravated battery in August 2008, but a methamphetamine charge filed against him in Minidoka County in February led to a probation violation on the Blaine County conviction.

Freeman was originally charged in Minidoka County with distribution of methamphetamine, but the case was pleaded down to possession. He was sentenced in Minidoka County on Aug. 2 and given the same penalty issued by Elgee, who ruled that the sentences can run concurrently.

Elgee also canceled Freeman's withheld judgment, a provision that could have allowed the aggravated battery conviction to be later removed from Freeman's criminal record.

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The Blaine County case against Freeman started on Feb. 2, 2008 when Freeman and his former boss Mark William Clifford were shoveling snow off roofs in the Cold Springs area south of Ketchum. According to police reports, Freeman broke a snow shovel, Clifford became angry and a verbal altercation led to violence.

At Freeman's original sentencing hearing in 2008, his former defense attorney, Douglas Nelson, claimed that Clifford started the fight and was choking Freeman when Freeman swung the hay hook, stabbing Clifford in the neck. Clifford was treated at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center and released the following day.

At Monday's sentencing hearing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback said Freeman denied drug involvement in 2008, but evidence from the latest charge against him shows that he has been a "longtime meth user."

"I think Mr. Freeman deserves a prison sentence at this point," Fredback said.

Nonetheless, he recommended the rider program, as did Freeman's court-appointed attorney, Douglas Werth.

"If we get him off of methamphetamine, he's not a criminal," Werth said. "He's the perfect person [for the rider program]. That's why that program was created."

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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