by Sheila Gardner

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February 8, 2013
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Gardnerville man admits stalking, assault on deputy

Four days before he was set for trial, a 31-year-old Gardnerville man pleaded guilty Friday to charges he waved a knife at a sheriff's deputy and stalked his 47-year-old former girlfriend.

In a two-hour hearing before District Judge Michael Gibbons, Springer admitted the felonies which carry a maximum sentence of 21 years in Nevada state prison and a $10,000 fine.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated stalking, and assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.

In exchange for Springer's guilty plea, both sides have agreed to recommend midlevel sentences of 4-10 years on the stalking charge, and 1-6 on the assault charge, to be served consecutively.

Lesser felony charges of intimidating or dissuading a victim from reporting a crime, and domestic battery by strangulation were dismissed.

Springer, who served time in prison for child abuse stemming from a 2008 case, could be eligible for probation.

Gibbons advised Springer that the sentence is up to the judge, no matter what the plea agreement says.

Both sides are permitted to present witnesses at the sentencing, set for April 8.

He was set for a five-day trial to begin Tuesday.

Springer has been in jail on $100,000 bail since April 7, 2012.

The victim testified at a preliminary hearing in August that she began dating Springer about a year before, and he moved in with her in September 2011.

She said the relationship turned violent, and she suffered frequent beatings at his hands which left her bruised all over her body. She said he also pulled out her hair.

The woman said she endured the abuse because Springer threatened to kill her and her family if she told.

She said one time Springer put a pillow over her face as she lay on the kitchen floor and stomped on it, breaking her nose. She claimed he pushed it back into place so no one would know it had been broken.

Springer was arrested after the woman's family members became suspicious and managed to get her out of the house on a ruse that she was having coffee with her sister who was visiting from out of town.

Springer was reluctant Friday to admit any wrongdoing, as required by the plea agreement. That prompted prosecutor Laurie Trotter to ask to rescind the agreement and proceed with trial.

Gibbons questioned Springer extensively about the events of the day he was arrested, and the four months of the couple's relationship.

Elements of the stalking charge required that Springer intend to make the victim fear substantial bodily harm for herself or her family.

"It wasn't my intention to scare her, but I believe she was scared," he said. "She took it as a serious threat. I guess I wanted to scare her."

He denied the victim's allegations that he struck and kicked her, and pulled out her hair.

"This is kind of embarrassing," he said. "She would request me to say or do certain stuff as asphyxiation. I would grab her by the neck when we were intimate. I squeezed her neck when she requested it. It was never against her will."

He claimed she pulled out her own hair, and denied any allegation of sexual assault.

Springer admitted he called the victim "dumb," and her behavior "stupid," among other terms.

Springer had trouble explaining what happened when a sheriff's deputy came to his apartment to investigate the domestic battery.

Deputy Joel Kruger testified at the preliminary hearing that Springer came toward him with a knife. Springer said the incident was over in seconds, while Kruger testified the suspect refused to drop the knife for a minute to a minute and a half.

"I held it long enough to view the situation. I was wrong for that," Springer said.

Trotter, dissatisfied with Springer's answers Friday, said if he wasn't willing to take responsibility, she would withdraw the agreement and go to trial.

"It shouldn't be a case of possibly or maybe," she said. "He either did it or not."

Following a short recess with his attorney, Matt Ence, Springer admitted the elements of the offenses.

Springer said he threatened to injure the victim and her son, and knew she was frightened of him because she had suffered abuse in the past at the hands of another man.

"I used that to my advantage," he said.

He also admitted threatening the deputy with the knife.

"There was a moment I did not put the knife down," he said.

Ence said that despite his client's "wishy-washy" language earlier in the hearing, he believed Springer met the requirements of the plea agreement to admit the criminal behavior.

In December 2008, Springer was sentenced to six years in Nevada State Prison for child abuse.

The victim, who was 11, testified at Springer's sentencing before Gibbons in 2009 that he hit her in the stomach, kicked her in the back and threw her to the floor. She said he dragged her to the bathroom, and hit her head on the sink three or four times, causing bleeding.

She told the judge when the bleeding wouldn't stop he tried to cauterize the burn with a penny he heated over a cigarette lighter, and made an attempt to stitch up the wound so her mother wouldn't find out. He was also accused of pulling out her hair.

Springer had to serve 16 months before he was eligible for parole. He was given credit for 268 days in custody in the 2008 offense.

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The Record Courier Updated Feb 8, 2013 09:26PM Published Feb 8, 2013 09:19PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.