A man who pleaded no contest in May to one count of aggravated assault after allegedly stabbing a man in the leg in the alley behind the Buckhorn Bar was sentenced to prison Tuesday in Albany County District Court.

Aaron S. Johnson, 42, will spend 3-6 years in prison with credit for time served. Judge Jeffrey Donnell also included a recommendation for the intensive treatment unit, should Johnson choose to undergo treatment for what Donnell said Tuesday is one of the worst alcohol problems he has seen in his two decades on the bench.

Johnson was arrested after police responded to the Buckhorn shortly after 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 for a report of a man who had been stabbed in the leg.

Court documents say the victim was smoking a cigarette with a friend in the alley next to the Buckhorn when Johnson walked past them then turned around, walked toward them and grabbed the victim's collar.

The victim reportedly took Johnson to the ground and told him to go home because he was drunk, but Johnson pulled a knife and stabbed the victim in the back of his right leg, according to the affidavit.

Donnell's decision to send Johnson to prison was a departure from the plea agreement cited by prosecutor Kurt Britzius in his request for the court to give Johnson a split sentence composed of time in the county detention center followed by probation.

"You earned prison time given your history," Donnell told Johnson, citing his 7-page criminal history and three prior felony convictions.

In his statement to the court, Johnson asked for 2-3 years in prison so he could serve his time and return to Tennessee. He said he has attended daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while in the Albany County Detention Center and believes he is getting a lot out of the program.

"He does honestly recognize how serious his drinking problem is," said defense attorney Candace Pisciotti, who said Johnson demonstrated an uncommon level of self-awareness. "I do trust him implicitly to know what's best for himself."

Britzius asked that Donnell, despite Johnson's request for prison time that includes no treatment aspect, recommend Johnson for the intensive treatment unit so he could at least have the option.

"He may change his mind and want to participate in the future," Britzius told the court.

Donnell told Johnson he hoped AA meetings continue to work for him.

"If you get back to drinking, you're likely going to kill someone or do yourself in," Donnell warned.


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