AUGUSTA — Getting involved in a brawl on Turkey Lane in Winthrop last June cost 22-year-old Ryan C. Harris 27 months behind bars.

Harris, of Winthrop, was convicted by a jury at the Capital Judicial Center Friday of one count of misdemeanor assault following a two-day trial. He was cleared of a charge of aggravated assault and two separate assault counts all relating to the fight on June 20, 2015.

However, Judge Evert Fowle noted at Monday’s sentencing hearing that Harris was on probation for a prior assault in which he injured a person with a baseball bat, and the state charged that Harris violated the terms of his probation by committing this new assault. Fowle said the genesis of the fight was a series of taunting text messages between another man and a 15-year-old boy. “Actually the language was very, very graphic and offensive,” Fowle said. “It was clear from the text messages that these two wanted to fight.”

He said he was not persuaded by the evidence he listened to during the trial that a knife was used by Harris during the ensuing brawl that left one man, Joshua Williams, minus a tooth and with a swollen eye.

But he said Harris should have known better than to get involved in any melee.

“Ryan Harris, unfortunately for him, was only too eager to fight when opportunity presented itself,” he said.

Harris told police at the time that he acted in self-defense.

“You should be avoiding fights and not plunging into it as I find you did,” Fowle told Harris. “The tragic fact of this case is that you let a 15-year-old punk lead you down to this. There is no evidence you knew this was happening. There is no evidence you went on Turkey Lane to fight.”

Harris spoke briefly at the hearing, telling the judge, “I had no intention of fighting or assaulting anybody. In fact, I was assaulted and nobody has done anything about it. I wasn’t there to assault anybody.”

Then he sat down in his chair at the defense table and lowered his head into his hands.

Fowle sentenced him to 364 days in the county jail for the assault conviction and to a concurrent 27 months in prison for the probation violation. Fowle also imposed the minimum $300 fine for assault and ordered Harris to pay $1,500 restitution for Williams’ benefit, but not the full $5,103.41 sought by the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Frayla Schoenfield.

In January 2014, Harris was sentenced for an assault that occurred Oct. 15, 2013, in Monmouth. He was given a five-year prison sentence with all but 10 months suspended and two years’ probation and was ordered to pay up to $4,606 restitution.

Defense attorney William Baghdoyan argued for a sentence of seven months and 12 days, the length of time Harris has been held in jail on the charges associated with the brawl.

Schoenfeld argued for a full revocation of the previous suspended sentence, which would have put Harris behind bars for 50 months.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 


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