Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | July 11, 2011

Brutal Attack On Disabled Man Gives Attacker 14-Year Prison Sentence

Brutal attack on disabled man with stun gun, hammer results in 14-year prison sentence (A disabled man was shocked and beaten with a hammer in a robbery to steal his laptop.)

EVERETT — A Snohomish County judge wasn’t swayed by the 20-year-old man’s demons.

Joseph Ricks’ addiction to methamphetamine may have driven him to take part in a brutal attack on a disabled man, but it wasn’t going to save him from a lengthy prison sentence.

Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent sentenced Ricks on Thursday to a bit more than 14 years in prison for the March 10 crime.

“You’re a 20-year-old man, not a 15-year-old kid,” Okrent said. “You tortured him. You did it because you needed a fix.”

Okrent said it made no difference to him if Ricks was high at the time of the attack.

Prosecutors alleged that Nicholas Brunson, then 18, recruited Ricks and Trevor Jones, 19, in a plan to force their way into the man’s apartment. Brunson allegedly told investigators he’d been plotting the robbery for weeks after seeing a laptop in the man’s apartment.

He allegedly said he chose the man because he was “weak and feeble,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Laura Twitchell wrote in charging papers.

The man, 56, has cerebral palsy. The attack left him with a broken clavicle and a punctured lung. He suffered more than 20 blows from a hammer. He was stabbed and shocked with an electronic stun gun.

Ricks was accused of using a Taser on the man when the trio forced their way into his Lynnwood apartment.

The victim wasn’t in court on Thursday. Twitchell said it’s difficult for him to travel.

Ricks pleaded guilty earlier this month to first-degree assault and attempted first-degree robbery. He admitted his victim was vulnerable. That opened the door for prosecutors to seek a sentence beyond the standard range.

“It was a very serious crime and disturbing in many ways,” Twitchell said Thursday.

She didn’t press for an exceptional sentence. Instead she asked for the high-end within the standard range. By pleading guilty, Ricks saved the victim the ordeal of testifying at trial, Twitchell said.

Ricks apologized to the man and his own family.

His attorney, Gurjit Pandher asked for a low-end sentence. He told Okrent that Ricks and his friends had been on a two-day meth binge and we’re looking for money to buy more drugs.

“This wasn’t my client’s idea,” Pandher said.

The defense attorney tried to convince Okrent that Ricks was less culpable.

In the end the judge said Ricks wasn’t any less responsible simply because he opted to bring a Taser instead of a hammer or knife.

Meanwhile Jones on Thursday pleaded guilty for his part in the attack. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

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