By Joe Bachman
A 28-year-old Wisconsin Rapids man was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for first degree reckless injury on Monday.
The sentencing stems from a December 2015 incident where a man walked into what was then Big Al’s Tavern, 126 2nd St. North, and pointed a gun at the victim’s head before an ensuing struggle. The two men wrestled each other to the ground before the gun went off, leaving the victim wounded.
The defendant, identified as Diondrell Hale, fled the scene and was found nearly seven months later in June of 2016 in Milwaukee. He plead guilty to first degree reckless injury last month.
According to Hale’s attorney, Eric Sheets, Hale was threatened by a firearm earlier that night by the victim and others affiliated with him, and Hale’s response was only in retaliation with no intention to cause harm. Sheets pointed out that Hale had no prior offenses relating to violent crime before the incident.
Prosecuting Attorney Nicholas Grode asked for a 20 year sentence, 10 of which would be served under extended supervision. Sheets requested a lighter sentence of six to eight years, most of which would have been served under extended supervision.
“I just want to apologize to Wood County,” said Hale in his statement to Judge Gregory Potter. “I’m very sorry for what I did — I was scared and intoxicated. I’m not a gang-banger — I’m not a bad guy. I made a mistake that I regret that I wish I could take back.”
While the maximum sentence was not handed out, Judge Potter told the court that a message must be sent that this type of behavior is not tolerated in this community. He also stressed to Hale that while he and his family may have been threatened by others, the best decision would have been to walk away from that type of confrontation.
“Bottom line is this would not have happened had you not brought a gun into that establishment,” said Potter. “Whether these other people had guns or not is somewhat irrelevant, because if they’re in the bar and they have weapons, nothing happens until you walk in.”
Hale will serve five years of his sentence in prison, with the other five served under extended supervision.