Three-year sentence for man who slashed victim's chest artery in fight

Aug 11, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Doctors told police the injury was life-threatening and that Tristan Gardner had nearly died in the hospital.

An Arapahoe man has been sentenced this to more than three years in prison for a January stabbing on the Wind River Indian Reservation in which the victim nearly bled to death.

Jude James Jenkins, 26, was charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury in connection with the incident, in which he stabbed Tristan Gardner with a 12-inch knife, according to court documents.

Officials said Gardner was transported to the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper for treatment of his injury, which included a right internal mammary artery transection - or cut - resulting in right-side hemothorax - or build-up of blood in the fluid-filled space surrounding the lungs; he also suffered hemorrhagic shock, a condition in which the body begins to shut down due to heavy blood loss.

Doctors told police the injury was life-threatening and that Gardner had nearly died in the hospital, documents state.

Stuck in the snow

According to an affidavit, Jenkins was sitting in a Nissan Pathfinder with several other people during the early morning hours of Jan. 21 in the 1600 block of 17 Mile Road when another vehicle got stuck in the snow nearby.

Gardner, one of the occupants of the stuck vehicle, walked to the Pathfinder and got in the back seat, the affidavit says; he appeared to be intoxicated.

Officials said Jenkins got out of the Pathfinder and tried to push the stuck vehicle out of the snow; afterward, he returned to the Pathfinder, and as the driver proceeded to a nearby residence he argued with Gardner about not helping to push the stuck vehicle out of the snow.

At one point, someone else in the vehicle heard Gardner say, "I don't want to fight you bro."

When they arrived at their destination, Jenkins got out of the vehicle and began arguing with Gardner, a witness said. She said the rear passenger door was open, and Jenkins was standing outside of the Pathfinder leaning in through the open door; he appeared to be throwing punches at Gardner.

Someone heard Jenkins say, "I'll stab you," to which Gardner said something like, "Go ahead do it."

The driver of the Pathfinder then drove away with the rear passenger door still open; Gardner closed the door and said he had been stabbed, according to reports.

At another residence in the area, officials said Gardner lifted up his shirt to reveal "a lot of blood oozing from a chest wound."

Another individual who had seen Jenkins that evening said he was intoxicated and had a knife, the affidavit states; an acquaintance said Jenkins had received the knife as a gift.

Officials were given permission to search the Pathfinder on Jan. 21 for evidence related to the stabbing. They said they found a red substance in the back seat that appeared to be blood.

They also collected Gardner's clothing from the hospital in Riverton; they said his jacket, sweatshirt, T-shirt and jersey appeared to be stained with a red substance visually consistent with blood.

Each garment also appeared to have a 1.5-inch-long cut or puncture in the right chest area, officials said.

In an interview later, Gardner said he had been drinking the night of the stabbing; he recalled getting stuck in the snow and walking toward the Pathfinder but did not remember anything else that took place before he woke up in the hospital.

Officials said they photographed a 1.5-inch-long laceration to Gardner's right chest area.

Jenkins was arrested in Fort Washakie. He pleaded not guilty during a court appearance April 4 but changed his plea during a hearing May 10.

He was sentenced Aug. 1 to 38 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He also will pay a $100 special assessment and almost $40,000 in restitution.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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