Surveillance video shows former JBER soldier's assault on airman
A former Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson soldier has been sentenced in a brutal assault on a fellow service member at the popular downtown bar F Street Station last year.
Nicholas Wyatt Brett, 28, was initially charged with first-degree and second-degree assault in the Aug. 6, 2017 attack on Airman 1st Class Seth Duggan, 23, but admitted to committing third-degree assault as part of a plea deal made with state prosecutors.
Surveillance video shown in court during Brett's sentencing hearing Friday shows Brett, at the time an Army corporal stationed at JBER, approach Duggan from behind. Brett is seen shoving Duggan into the bar, then striking him with his elbow once Duggan turns to face him, sending Duggan's head into a metal bar. Brett is seen immediately walking away as Duggan falls to the floor.
The attack left Duggan using a cane as he recovered from a fractured skull and traumatic brain injuries. He is also permanently deaf in his right ear and now uses a cochlear implant.
Delivering a victim impact statement in court Friday, Duggan said he was out celebrating a safe return from the Middle East the night his path crossed with Brett's.
He described a life turned upside down following the attack, including a breakup with his significant other.
"This ordeal was too much for her to take with the changes in my moods, interests, and personality," Duggan said.
In addition to the physical consequences of his injuries, Duggan said, he now also experiences PTSD, depression and panic attacks.
"Your Honor, I ask that you sentence Mr. Brett to the maximum sentence," Duggan asked Anchorage Superior Court Judge Catherine Easter. "He is a disgrace to the United States Army, his country, and his brothers that were deployed that day."
When given this opportunity to speak, Brett addressed Duggan, apologizing for the assault.
"I truly am sorry for what I put you and your family through, and I know that words can't express that," Brett said.
The charge Brett pleaded to usually carries a maximum sentence of five years and a $50,000 fine. Under the terms of his plea agreement, however, Brett acknowledged 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.
"This is a tragic case all around. You had two young men, both in their 20s, who had the whole world ahead of them," Easter said. "And yet, in one split second, both of their lives have been changed dramatically for the rest of their lives."
Easter sentenced Brett to serve four years with three suspended, leaving one year of active sentence time. He will get credit for 100 days served primarily on an electronic ankle monitor.
Brett will also be allowed two months to get his affairs in order before turning himself in on Nov. 7.
Assistant District Attorney Arne Soldwedel, the prosecutor in the case, was not able to say with certainty how much time if any Brett will spend behind bars.
Brett, now a convicted felon, is facing an additional case in civil court after Duggan sued him in August, seeking compensation for damages in excess of $100,000.
According to his defense attorney, Brett was discharged from the Army as a result of the criminal case.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.