A former Grizzly football player was given a two-year deferred sentence Tuesday for his role in the September 2008 assault on a University of Montana student.
Andrew J. Douglass, 19, will spend the next two years on felony probation. He pleaded guilty in August to a felony charge of criminal endangerment, though his criminal record will be expunged if he does not run afoul of the law during the probationary period.
A prosecutor initially charged Douglass with a more serious crime of aggravated assault for his role in the attack, which involved two other former football players. The victim, also a UM student, suffered a fractured jaw, a concussion and chipped teeth.
The prosecutor agreed to reduce the charge to criminal endangerment after the victim's oral surgeon said the injuries were not severe enough to constitute serious bodily injury, an element that must be proven in an aggravated assault case.
Facing a maximum punishment of 10 years in the Montana State Prison and a $50,000 fine, Douglass accepted a plea agreement rather than proceed to trial. Surveillance video of the assault, which happened outside of UM's Miller Hall, clearly shows Douglass and another man shadow boxing in preparation for the fight, then depicts Douglass removing his shirt and another former Griz player, Cody von Appen, punching the victim and knocking him to the ground. Douglass then hits and kicks the man after he has fallen.
When campus safety officers arrived at the scene, they found the man lying on the ground, bloodied "and with contusions on his head and face," records state.
Von Appen pleaded no contest to felony criminal endangerment in February. He was given a three-year deferred sentence and 21 days in jail.
A third former football player, Justin Montelius, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of negligent endangerment and unlawful possession of alcohol. He received a one-year deferred jail sentence and must perform 20 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine.
After the charges were filed, Douglass returned to his family's home in Orange County, Calif., where he is attending a nearby community college and playing football. He lost his football scholarship at UM following his arrest.
"Andrew has lost his opportunity to play football for and attend the University of Montana," wrote Douglass' attorney, Josh Van de Wetering, in a sentencing memorandum. The document goes on to say that Douglass is responsible for paying the victim's medical bills and, as a felon, will lose his right to vote, sit on juries and own a firearm.
"He has lost much of his reputation in this community and his home community," the memorandum states. "The sentence agreed to by both the state and the defendant serves to punish the defendant, yet allows him to continue to grow into the man he should - and will - become."
Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at 523-5264 or at email@example.com.