A 56-year-old Gardnerville man was sentenced Tuesday to five years in Nevada state prison after he struck his brother with a 3-foot ax handle resulting in a broken arm, and more than 50 stitches for the victim's head wound.
"I want to apologize to my family and my little brother," said Donald Beckerdite. "Whether he cares or not, I love him to death."
Beckerdite faced up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
District Judge Dave Gamble said he could not dismiss the incident as "a simple fight between two brothers."
Beckerdite must serve a minimum of two years before he is eligible for parole.
"When it escalates to the point where people could have been killed, it changes the character of the whole event," Gamble said.
He also pointed out that Beckerdite had a felony conviction from 37 years ago for assault with intent to murder.
Beckerdite's attorney, Derrick Lopez, pointed out that his client was sentenced to probation on the old charge, which he did violate, ending up serving a year in prison.
Lopez compared the fight between Beckerdite and his brother to a "volcano that erupted."
"The feelings had been building for some time," Lopez said. "It's not likely to happen again."
He said Beckerdite was struggling with his sobriety, and the victim's behavior was compromising his success.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Beckerdite's brother told deputies he heard a crash in his bedroom on Aug. 15, and when he went to investigate he was attacked by the suspect.
According to the sheriff's report, the defendant told deputies he was angry at his brother, so he broke the sliding glass door and hit his brother with the ax handle.
Gamble gave Beckerdite credit for 91 days in custody.