Man Does Not Contest Stabbing Charge, Requests Jail
A Laramie man who was set to stand trial Tuesday on a charge of stabbing another man in the alley next to the Buckhorn Bar entered a no contest plea and asked to go to jail pending sentencing Tuesday in Albany County District Court.
Aaron S. Johnson, 42, was allowed to plead no contest to one count of aggravated assault. At most, he could be sentenced to serve 10 years in prison and pay a $10,000 fine.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend a split sentence of one year in the Albany County Detention Center followed by supervised probation. Whether Johnson might receive credit for time served will be up to Judge Jeffrey Donnell.
Defense attorney Candace Pisciotti told the court that Johnson would prefer to be remanded to custody pending sentencing. Pisciotti said that given Johnson's history of alcohol abuse, he felt jail was the best way to adhere to the conditions of his bond -- which stipulate absolutely no use of alcohol or any other controlled substances -- and avoid jeopardizing his plea deal.
"Mr. Johnson is very honest about his struggle with sobriety," said Pisciotti. "I believe the stress of the situation and pending sentencing has created quite a burden on him at this point."
Donnell agreed that it was in Johnson's best interest to avoid any potential for alcohol abuse that could cause a "dangerous situation," as Pisciotti put it.
"It certainly is unusual," said Donnell. "But perhaps wise."
Johnson was arrested after reportedly stabbing a man near the Buckhorn Bar last year.
An officer of the Laramie Police Department went to the Buckhorn shortly after 10:30 p.m. Nov. 24 for a report of a man who was stabbed in the leg.
According to what the victim told police as recorded in court documents, the victim was smoking a cigarette with a friend in the alley next to the Buckhorn when Johnson walked past them pushing a bicycle and shouting about someone named Justin, or Justin's brother.
The officer's affidavit goes on to say that Johnson "turned around and walked towards the victim and his friend when [Johnson] reached out and grabbed the victim's collar." The victim then took Johnson to the ground, put his knee on Johnson's chest and told him to go home because he was drunk.
The victim heard a click and looked between his legs to see Johnson holding a knife. The victim reportedly grabbed the knife as Johnson stabbed him in the back of the right leg. According to the affidavit, the victim's friend helped take the knife away from Johnson. Once Johnson was without the knife, he got his bicycle and left the alley.
Court documents show there was a quarter-inch cut in the victim's hamstring. EMS treated the victim at the scene and the victim reportedly did not require hospitalization, instead following up with medical treatment at the student health center.
"Mr. Johnson was heavily intoxicated at the time and has little to no recollection of the event," Pisciotti said on Tuesday. Johnson's lack of memory and inability to establish a factual basis in court led to Donnell allowing Johnson to plead no contest.
A sentencing date will be set pending completion of the presentence investigation.