PROVO It's one thing to attack someone. It's another thing to choke and punch them as they're driving 70 mph on the freeway.
"It is an egregious incident," 4th District Judge Claudia Laycock told Scott Halverson, 26, who stood before her, blinking hard to push back tears. "(Your) behavior at that time was just so far beyond the realm of appropriateness."
Halverson tearfully admitted Wednesday morning during his sentencing that he had been drinking when he attacked his girlfriend as they drove south on Interstate 15 near Provo last December.
Angry at something she said, he began choking her and punched her in her eye.
The woman's two children were in the back of the car and watched their mother get beaten as she tried to stay in control of the car, then pull off to the side of the road.
"I just want to apologize for what happened," Halverson said. "I was ... drinking too much. I let emotions get the best of me. That never should have happened to her. Her kids should never have had to witness something like that."
Halverson's attorney, Brook Sessions, told Laycock he was concerned about the recommendation from Adult Probation and Parole regarding Halverson's sentence.
"I have a lot to talk about," Sessions said. "This is one of the most incongruous recommendations of probation (based on) my client's criminal history."
Halverson has two misdemeanor convictions and one criminal mischief charge that rose to a felony level because of the amount of damage to a car that he keyed.
Sessions also clarified factual errors in the victim-impact letter.
One clarification was that Halverson did not abandon the woman on the side of the road, but when she pulled off to the side, he offered to take her to the hospital but she refused.
She then told him to leave and take the car, which he did. He turned himself into police later that day.
But Sessions said he was most concerned that AP&P recommended a 60-day diagnostic test at the Utah State Prison, which could potentially end in serving time in prison.
"This is an egregious act; it is outrageous," Sessions said. "We just ask that the punishment fit his history and the crime."
Prosecutor Randy Kennard said he didn't want prison time either but said jail time was appropriate.
"He was assaulting someone who is basically defenseless and in the presence of her two children," he said. "They're going to be dealing with very troubled memories for the rest of their life based on this conduct."
Laycock agreed that jail would be the best place for Halverson and sentenced him to 60 days in jail, with a report date of Jan. 3 so he can work out things with his job.
Halverson's stepfather, Mark Moats, spoke to the court on Halverson's behalf."He understands he's made a huge mistake, and he's here to accept responsibility," Moats said. "I ask today that the court allow him the opportunity to continue to get back on the right track and continue with his progress in the right direction, as opposed to the situations that he got himself into a year ago."