A judge Tuesday sentenced two men to maximum prison terms for the near-fatal beating of a 36-year-old man they claimed had made homosexual advances.
First District Judge VeNoy Christoffersen sentenced Tracy Kendrick, 18, of Millville, and Shayne Rhodes, 19, of Wellsville, to zero to five years in prison for third-degree felony assault in the beating of Harold Dean Hawker last Feb. 14."You are fortunate not to be charged with homicide because the Cache County attorney waited several weeks to file charges, not knowing if Mr. Hawker would die," the judge said. "We have heard testimony that if this victim had not been found by a passing motorist, he would have died within two hours."
The judge's comment came after defense attorneys pleaded for leniency because of the relatively young ages of their clients.
Kendrick's attorney, Robert Warnick, said his client had less involvement in the beating than his co-defendant. Attorney Arden Lauritzen, who represented Rhodes, said the beating occurred only after Hawker made a homosexual advance toward his client.
"My client is still half man and half child. He has no previous criminal record and hysteria has surrounded this entire incident. This man stepped out of a normal family and a normal school life and was himself a victim of an unnatural act," Lauritzen said.
But the judge was unsympathetic.
"You attorneys talk about hysteria, but I have not heard one thing about why there should be any excuse for leaving a severely beaten human being in freezing temperatures, not knowing if he would die."
Christoffersen also ordered the two men to pay restitution, which exceeds $100,000 for Hawker's medical expenses.
During a Nov. 22 trial, Rhodes testified that he met Hawker in a restroom at a park east of Logan and that the three men decided to go get a beer together.
He said Hawker drove to a gravel pit east of North Logan where he "reached over and touched me in the groin."
The men were charged with leaving a badly beaten Hawker near his own pickup truck in a parking lot at the Logan Golf and Country Club.
Hawker sustained a fractured skull, two collapsed lungs and severe facial and eye injuries. He was hospitalized for more than three months and was in a coma for several weeks.