Oct 24, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterIf he fails there, Patrick Duran will be sentenced to the state penitentiary for his attack in May on Stefan Bigmedicine.
The judge in a stabbing case gave the defendant a second chance Thursday, but it was not exactly the one he had requested.
District Court Judge Norman E. Young recommended that Patrick Duran attend a boot camp program.
"If you do well, you'll be there about a year, then I'll put you on probation," Young said. "If you don't do well, you'll wash out of the boot camp, and they'll send you to (prison in) Torrington."
Officially, Young sentenced Duran to four to eight years in prison and recommended him for boot camp. The program is for men sentenced before their 25th birthdays and is located near Newcastle.
Duran's attorney, Terry Martin, had asked Young to give a sentence of three to six or seven years in prison suspended in favor of probation. Under such sentences, defendants go on probation but serve the time in prison if they violate the conditions of their release.
Young decided against probation because of the seriousness of Duran's crime.
In August, Duran, 24, of Riverton, pleaded no contest to one count of aggravated assault for stabbing Stefan Bigmedicine, 30, three times May 26 at a home in the Gardens North subdivision north of Honor Farm Road. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a more severe charge of attempted second-degree murder.
The deal also limited Duran's maximum sentence to eight years in prison; aggravated assault's maximum penalty under Wyoming law is 10 years.
Young's sentence was more lenient than what prosecutors requested.
Deputy county attorney Patrick LeBrun asked the judge to impose a term of five to seven years in prison, not boot camp. Duran's youth justified some mercy, LeBrun said, referring to his request for less than the possible maximum sentence, but the prosecutor noted Duran's crime was severe.
"Cold, hard punishment is appropriate," he said.
Duran asked for leniency so he could reform himself, he said. He admitted to having an alcohol problem that played a role in his crime and said he wanted to make better choices for his two daughters.
"I apologize for the crime I did," Duran told the court. "I just want this chance to show and prove I can change and turn myself around for my children."
In an August hearing, Duran said he was so drunk on the night in May he does not remember either stabbing Bigmedicine or why he attacked him.
His lawyer supported Duran's statements.
"He feels his best chance of success in addressing his alcohol problem would be with the support of his family," Martin said.
The defense attorney pointed to signs his client was making better decisions, noting Duran had not had any behavior problems in the five months he has been in the Fremont County Detention Center.
In his sentence, Young noted the boot camp program addresses alcohol and substance abuse problems.
In another rare moment of defendant-judge interaction, Duran expressed gratitude for his sentence.
"Good luck. Here's a chance at the blue water, as they say in the Navy," the judge said.
"Thank you, your honor," Duran replied.
Reason for attack
The mystery of why Duran stabbed Bigmedicine continued through the sentencing.
"I was hoping, Mr. LeBrun, you could explain to me why Mr. Duran felt he needed to stab Mr. Bigmedicine three times," the judge said. "It's like 'The Twilight Zone' ... it's like 'Why are we here?'"
Throughout the court proceedings, the defendant has maintained he was too drunk to remember why he attacked the other man. Martin and LeBrun both said they had been unable to reach Bigmedicine to find out what he remembered of the incident.
The defense attorney offered the most insight at the sentencing hearing.
"My client's cousin apparently had difficulties with the victim," Martin said.
But he said he still did not fully understand what led to the attack.
The last thing Duran remembered was talking with Bigmedicine and resolving their issue peacefully, Martin said.
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