An Arizona man accused of brandishing a stun gun and assaulting victims at a Cache Valley barbecue was sentenced to jail and probation on Monday.
Eli Thomas McClain, 31, was sentenced to 90 days in the Cache County Jail with credit for eight days served in addition to 36 months’ probation.
McClain pleaded guilty in July to two counts of third-degree aggravated assault, class-A aggravated assault, third-degree possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, and two counts of class-A commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child.
During his sentencing hearing on Monday, McClain emotionally apologized to the victims and the court for the incident. McClain expressed his desire to take back what had transpired and wished the event had never happened.
“I think about it every day — I feel bad,” McClain told the court. “Some things you can’t take back.”
Defense counsel Joseph Rupp told the court the events were “very unfortunate,” but were exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption. Rupp said McClain had taken responsibility, had been successful on probation in the past and argued for a lenient sentence.
“McClain has been extremely compliant and contrite,” Rupp told the court.
Cache County Prosecutor Dane Murray requested the court sentence McClain to the sentencing matrix maximum of 180 days in jail for the “extremely serious” event.
Two victims addressed the court prior to sentencing. One victim told the court McClain had shown much improvement since the incident; she said McClain needed treatment in lieu of being “thrown away” to prison.
“I can’t stress enough how much better he’s doing,” the victim told the court.
The second victim told the court his children had been very fearful of McClain since the incident; he said alcohol isn’t a defense and McClain should be punished accordingly.
“He still made the choice to assault me with a taser,” the victim said.
Judge Angela Fonnesbeck said while McClain did have a history of violent behavior, he also had strong support from family and friends as well as unusually high mitigating circumstances that should be taken into consideration. Fonnesbeck said McClain’s pre-sentence report had “the largest number of mitigating circumstances” she’d seen.
Though the charges could result in a prison sentence, Fonnesbeck elected for a 90-day jail sentence with probation. McClain was also ordered to write letters of apology to victims in the case.
The charges stemmed from an assault during a July barbecue, according to prosecutors. It was alleged that McClain, while highly intoxicated, struck a female victim and held a stun gun to her neck during an argument in a fifth-wheel trailer.
Documents filed with the court state McClain attempted to leave in his vehicle and was confronted by multiple adults; McClain then used the stun gun on the confronting adults.
McClain was arrested and booked into jail on July 18 and was initially charged with 13 felonies. Seven felony charges leveled against McClain were dropped as per a plea agreement, including a first-degree count of aggravated kidnapping.