Soldier awaiting sentencing in assault case faces civil suit
A Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson soldier who pleaded guilty in an attack on a fellow airman is now facing a civil lawsuit filed just two weeks before his scheduled sentencing in the assault case.
The assault happened at the popular Downtown bar F Street Station last summer and was described by witnesses as "unprovoked."
Army Cpl. Nicholas Wyatt Brett, 28, was initially charged with first- and second-degree assault in the Aug. 6 attack on Airman 1st Class Seth Duggan, but admitted to committing third-degree assault as part of a plea deal made with State prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Brett was seen on surveillance video at F Street Station approaching Duggan from behind in the assault, at about 2:45 a.m. on a Sunday. Brett positioned Duggan’s head with his left hand before striking him with his right elbow, driving Duggan’s head into a metal bar – an impact which left Duggan using a cane, as he recovered from a fractured skull and traumatic brain injuries.
Court transcripts from a September bail hearing indicate that Brett and Duggan didn’t know each other prior to the assault. Arne Soldwedel, the prosecutor in the case, said Brett had gone to F Street “looking for trouble” and that a high-five had occurred after the attack.
More than a year after the attack, with Brett's sentencing approaching, Duggan's attorney filed a civil suit against Brett seeking compensation for damages in excess of $100,000.
The civil complaint document alleges that Brett not only struck Duggan while under the influence of alcohol and then failed to render aid, but delivered a second blow "intentionally."
An initial hearing has not yet been scheduled, but the two service members are expected to be in the same courtroom Friday morning for Brett's scheduled sentencing in the criminal case.
Brett's plea agreement involves an open sentencing -- meaning Judge Catherine Easter will decide his sentence.
The charge he's pleaded to usually carries a maximum sentence of five years and a $50,000 fine, but under the terms of the agreement Brett agreed that his actions were “among the most serious conduct included in the definition of the offense.” That aggravating factor allows a judge to exceed the typical sentencing range.
Meanwhile, Brett's defense attorney has filed a motion requesting that he get credit for 96 days served on an electronic ankle monitor.
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