A judge denied an attempt to withdraw a guilty plea and instead sentenced a man accused of beating a person at a Logan gas station in November.
Cache Valley resident Daniel Cliff Torson, 36, was sentenced to an indeterminate term of zero to five years in the Utah State Prison for a third-degree aggravated assault. He was also ordered to pay over $10,000 in restitution.
Judge Angela Fonnesbeck said she was not looking forward to sentencing Torson. She was dubious prison was the best place for him, though she believed Torson to be a “public safety concern.”
“I’m particularly troubled because you are a man who needs help,” Fonnesbeck said, and later said she hopes he receives treatment.
Torson was allegedly homeless at the time of the incident and camping near the gas station in Logan when an employee told him to leave. According to an affidavit of probable cause, Torson began yelling at the employee and was confronted by a bystander who told Torson “to stop speaking to a lady in such a way.” Torson proceeded to beat the man, police wrote, causing large lacerations to the back of the head and a possible concussion. He told police he was protecting his “territory.”
The victim was taken to Logan Regional Hospital.
Torson told the court he felt threatened and was defending himself. He claimed to have suffered injuries in the fight; police asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital, but he declined treatment to avoid doctor bills.
In November, Torson decided to represent himself and attempted to withdraw his guilty plea.
On Nov. 12, Torson told the court he had been denied his medications, including a “really important” anti-psychotic, for nearly three weeks while incarcerated and didn’t understand the severity of the charges. Torson told the court he denied that everything the prosecution stated was fact, yet his guilty plea was accepted.
“It sounds like the court is taking advantage of someone ignorant of the law,” he told the court in November. “That’s what they do to people like me — they make you sit in jail until you give up.”
A recording of Torson’s guilty plea before the now-retired Judge Kevin Allen was played for the court. Cache County prosecutor Griffin Hazard told the court Torson seemed to be attentive and of sound mind, while Galloway and Allen were both acutely aware of Torson and his needs.
“I will not be allowing you to withdraw your plea,” Fonnesbeck said, and reappointed Galloway as Torson’s public defender.
Torson has several convictions dating back to 2002, including multiple controlled substance charges and a third-degree aggravated assault from 2005.