May 1—The Rochester man who hit another man in the face with a glass at a downtown bar in May 2019 was sentenced on Friday to prison.
James Lee Halverson, 38, was found guilty in March by an Olmsted County District Court jury of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and third-degree assault-substantial bodily harm. Because the charges stem from the same event, Halverson was not sentenced on the third-degree assault charge. The jury acquitted Halverson of first-degree assault.
On Friday, Judge Joseph Chase handed down a 71-month prison sentence for the assault. Halverson receives credit for 370 days he has already served. In Minnesota, 2/3 of a prison sentence must be served in prison, while the remaining third can be done on supervised release.
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The conviction is a result of a May 8, 2019, incident. Rochester police were called about 12:40 a.m. that day to a bar in the downtown area for a report of an assault. When they arrived, officers found a man with a towel pressed against the left side of his face. The man said he had been hit in the face with a bottle.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Court documents indicate the man and Halverson were having a "pushing match" at the hostess podium and when he was told to leave by bar staff, Halverson hit the man in the face with a glass. The man required surgery to repair the deep gash to his left cheek. Chase said Friday that he was surprised the man "had as good of a surgical result" as he had considering the "gaping" and "deep" wound he suffered.
"You threw a cheap shot," Chase said of the hit. "What I think happened is your anger just got the best of you for a good 10 seconds and you threw it all away."
Multiple letters of support for Halverson were submitted to the court asking the judge to not separate Halverson from his family longer than minimally necessary. There were also letters outlining Halverson's volunteer work.
"We can't send Mr. Hyde and not Mr. Jekyll, as well," Chase said of the dichotomy of Halverson's criminal history and recent strides he has made in life to being a better father and member of society.
As a part of the trial, the jury found that Halverson was a danger to public safety. Prosecutors filed an intent to seek an aggravated sentence. Halverson was on supervised release in Mower County at the time of the assault. As a result of May 2019 incident, Halverson will likely be ordered to serve a 38-month prison in the Mower County case.
In part because of that sentence, Assistant Olmsted County Attorney Joseph Rosholt argued for the statutory maximum for the second-degree assault charge — 120 months in prison. Per sentencing guidelines, the presumptive sentence for the charge combined with Halverson's criminal history would have been 60 months.
Defense attorney Lauri Traub argued against the 120-month sentence noting that Halverson has made significant strides in his life in recent years — something Halverson himself told the court.
"I know looking at me on paper is not pretty," he said, adding that he gained his master barber's license while serving a prison sentence. Halverson said he found a job as a barber a week after being released from prison and held that job for three years before the pandemic hit. Halverson also told the court that he has worked to rebuild his relationship with his young daughter and her mother.
Halverson has a pending unrelated case in Olmsted County District Court charging him with felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and fourth-degree assault of a peace officer as well as a gross misdemeanor DWI charge. He has pleaded not guilty.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
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