Victim shows compassion for bat-wielding assailant in Coupeville attack
Sep 24, 2010
From the article by Jessie Stensland in The Seattle Post Intelligencer:
One of the most serious assault cases in Coupeville in recent memory culminated in what a judge described as “a very unusual and heartwarming situation.”
Judge Alan Hancock lauded the victim, the defendant, the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney for taking part in a rare meeting that occurred prior to last Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.
“It’s an almost unprecedented situation for the court to hear about such a meeting,” Hancock said. “This is restorative justice, folks.”
Ryan Marti, a 17-year-old Coupeville boy, could have faced a decade in adult prison if either the prosecutor or victim had insisted that he go to trial in adult criminal court on a charge of first-degree assault.
Instead, a plea bargain moved the case in juvenile court, where Marti pleaded guilty to assault in the second degree. He will serve about two years in a juvenile detention facility.
Marti struck 22-year-old Stephen Fanelli over the head with a baseball bat at a teenaged drinking party in Coupeville April 10. In court, Prosecutor Greg Banks said Marti overreacted and “unreasonably believed” that he needed to protect his friend from Fanelli.
Banks said that Fanelli suffered a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage. The blow broke the bones of the inner ear, destroying the hearing on Fanelli’s right side.
...Yet despite the serious injuries, Fanelli wasn’t angry or vengeful. Banks said the young man wanted to know if he could meet with Marti, who he didn’t even know, and ask him the question on everyone’s mind: What was he thinking?
Banks contacted Marti’s attorney, Terry Smith of Oak Harbor, and they set up the unusual meeting. They all met in Banks’ office. The attorneys mainly listened as the two young men hashed things out.
“It was quite a remarkable meeting,” Banks said. “Not something we see very often in the criminal justice system.”
Banks said he was particularly impressed with Fanelli’s wisdom and compassion. After the meeting, Fanelli concluded that he didn’t want to see Marti’s life ruined by one stupid mistake, but that there should be some consequences.
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