Beating ends man’s Navy career, assailant jailed

A 21-year-old Oak Harbor man is going to jail for hitting a man and stomping on him outside a bar last fall. The assault caused severe injuries and ended the victim’s Navy career, according to the Island County Prosecutor’s Office.

Deante Lawson pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Sept. 1 to assault in the second degree.

Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme recommended a sentence of nine months in jail, which is the top of the standard sentencing range. Judge Vickie Churchill agreed and imposed the sentence, which Lawson will begin serving at the end of the month.

In addition, Churchill ordered Lawson to pay $817 in fines and fees. Any restitution to the victim was reserved for another hearing.

An assault involving multiple people broke out in front of the Lava Lounge on Pioneer Way in the early morning hours of Nov. 1, 2008. When police arrived, two men were lying unconscious in the middle of the street, Oak Harbor Police Detective Mike Bailey wrote in his report on the incident.

A witness said that Lawson hit the 21-year-old victim with brass knuckles, but Ohme wrote in an email that he couldn’t conclusively established that such a weapon was brandished.

Lawson described the incident as a fight and claimed he thought the victim uttered a racial slur. But Ohme said the attack on the victim was unprovoked. Lawson hit the man; after the victim fell down, Lawson and others stomped on him, according to the deputy prosecutor.

The victim was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment. He went through a three-hour surgery to repair his facial injuries.

Ohme wrote that the victim suffered “horrific injury to his skull and jaw,” and he was discharged from the Navy as a result.

“He has since moved back to the East Coast and hopes to rebuild his life,” Ohme wrote. “I had a number of conversations with the victim and the victim’s mother and both were very much in favor of the resolution reached in the case.”

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