Brian Muzzy, 32, was sentenced Monday for his Class A felony charge of attempted murder. His charge for possession of marijuana in a correctional facility was dropped as part of a plea deal.
Although Muzzy had originally pleaded "not guilty" to his charge, he changed his plea in April to "guilty" as part of a deal and began participating with law enforcement and prosecutors on other legal matters.
Judge Todd Cresap sentenced Muzzy to 20 years in prison, of which eight years will have to be served with the remaining 12 suspended with 10 years probation. The state's 85 percent rule applies in this case, so Muzzy will have to be in prison for more than six and a half years, minus the 175 days he is credited for already serving. There will also be $1,025 in court fees.
He will also be required to pay $137,263.03 to Trinity Hospital in Minot for the hospital bills for Shaun Scott, who Muzzy shot in the abdomen with a .357 revolver on Jan. 20 in Holiday Village Mobile Home Park.
The sentence is exactly the recommendation of Assistant State's Attorney Christene Reierson, who prosecuted the case with Assistant State's Attorney Sean Kasson.
Defense attorney William Hartl, who is based in Rugby, recommended a 20 year sentence in which Muzzy would have to serve four years, along with $60,000 restitution, or less than half of the total medical bills, a reduced amount based on Muzzy's ability to pay.
Hartl said that Muzzy has done probation before and was a model in both that and a model inmate of the Ward County Jail where, other than the dismissed marijuana charge, he had never received a single citation. Hartl also argued that Muzzy was a contributing member of the community prior to this incident and that, with his contracting work, he made between $7,000 and $8,000 a month. That income made him the bread-winner for his fiancee and her children.
Many people wrote letters attesting to Muzzy's good character, including both the brother and sister-in-law of Scott, the victim.
The letters painted Muzzy as a helpful person who had helped them out both financially and with services. In fact, Muzzy had paid the airplane ticket to Minot for Shaun Scott when he was homeless in Denver at the time. Scott is the brother of Muzzy's former fiancee. A letter from her said that she had never felt threatened by him and that he acted as a father to her three children.
After the defense and prosecution offered their recommendations, Cresap gave the floor to Muzzy to make a comment. Muzzy just wished to say that he had been hit by Scott that night, and that Scott's hands were not in his pockets at the time like both his own attorney and the prosecutors had asserted. Rierson had also asserted that Muzzy "lay in wait" for Scott.
Cresap felt that the prosecution had been "cavalier" in the consideration that defending his fiancee and her three children from Scott, who, according to police reports and the story of both the prosecution and the defense, had physically attacked the woman and her 12-year-old son when the son ran to his mother's aid, would be a "provocation" in the act. Cresap maintained that there is no excuse for attempted murder, but that the provocation, as well as Muzzy's character defenses, should be considered in sentencing.
Cresap did note that he found language Muzzy used in phone calls to be "particularly disturbing."
Prosecutors asserted that Muzzy had said things on the phone, which are unprintable here, that suggest he felt differently about the situation than he had said to investigators during the pre-sentencing investigation, where he maintained remorse for the incident and wishes Scott a full recovery. Scott is on Medicaid now and has to use a colostomy bag, an addition to his life that may or may not ever be reversible.
In the end, after sentencing, Cresap said that if the letters backing up Muzzy's character, as well as Muzzy's professional skillset, are any indication then he should be able to get his old life back. He also looked at Muzzy and said that he honestly wishes him "the best of luck."