PROVO A 17-year-old boy who pulled a gun on a school counselor was sentenced to prison this week, after a judge ruled he was a danger to the community.
"What I have before me is a young man (who is) ... high risk and, to be quite honest, frightening to the public," Judge Steven Hansen told a shackled Jerry Gale, as Gale stood at the podium with his attorney Tuesday morning for sentencing.
Gale previously pleaded guilty in 4th District Court to four second-degree felony charges including aggravated assault, burglary and theft, stemming from an incident on Sept. 1.
Gale was sentenced to one to 15 years on each charge, to be served concurrently.
On the day of the incident, Gale and another student at the Heritage School in Provo had escaped and were running from school counselors.
When confronted in the basement of a Provo apartment complex, Gale pointed a stolen gun at the counselor and told police he pulled the trigger, although the gun didn't fire.
Defense attorney Keith Eddington said Tuesday that there is no other evidence regarding a pulled trigger besides Gale's statement, and he said his client is prone to exaggeration.
Prior to sentencing, Gale was sent to the prison for a review, although prosecutor Curtis Larson had previously agreed not to recommend prison time, given Gale's history and age.
Gale had been sexually abused since childhood, and his stepfather, Brad Gale, is serving time in a federal prison for the sex crimes.
However, Larson said he was disappointed by Gale's meltdown at the prison, as was Hansen.
"I had hoped the report would have come back recommending probation, and it did not," Hansen said. "Prison didn't have an effect at all; he's not afraid of prison. He's not afraid of anybody. This report is frightening to me."
But Eddington is convinced Gale's failure to participate in therapy at the prison was because it was focused on sex offenders, not sex victims. Thus Gale had to sit day after day listening to men talk about the same types of crimes he had experienced as a victim.
Eddington said the most telling thing Gale told him was, "What can they do (in prison) that hasn't already been done to me?"
Gale was quiet except when the judge asked him what he had to say.
"Just stupid choices, I hurt a lot of people; I know I did wrong," Gale said.
Eddington acknowledged his client was immature, but he asked for jail time so Gale who has never been violent before could get the treatment he needs.
In the end, it was the report of the prison officials that led Hansen to sentence Gale to prison."He sought a thrill in behaving dangerously ... he did not view his actions as harming anyone; he didn't take time to consider the consequences of his actions," Hansen read, quoting prison officials. "He's a strong candidate for prison. We have great concern for the safety of the community."
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