Batterer gets suspended prison sentence

District Judge Dave Gamble sentenced a 24-year-old Gardnerville Ranchos man to five years probation Tuesday, but warned the defendant he would go to prison for a crime the judge called "a murder waiting to happen" if he violates terms of his release.

In an agreement with the district attorney's office, Jeremiah J. Gottas pleaded guilty to felony coercion in the Feb. 18 battery of his former girlfriend.

The deal called for probation if Gottas completed an in-patient treatment program.

Gamble went along with the probation but doubled the sentence from the recommended 30 months to 72 months.

"This is a murder waiting to happen," Gamble said. "These are the people I put in prison " people who are violent with other people."

The victim suffered two black eyes, bruises around her neck and other injuries in the attack. Deputies were called to the Redwood Circle apartment by a neighbor who heard her screaming.

"The statement of Mr. Gottas that is most offensive to me is that before he beat this woman up, 'I was severely aggravated.' Well, bummer, but that doesn't justify this," Gamble said. "His response to this is that he drank and whatever happened after that, tough. You beat this woman with a phone, you choked her out."

Gottas said he couldn't remember anything that happened because he was drunk.

"Don't look at me funny. Do you remember? You weren't 'there.' She suffered through every blow. You, on the other hand, chose to drink, to trap somebody in the kitchen. You chose to choke her," Gamble said.

Gottas apologized to the victim who attended the sentencing with her family.

"There's no excuse for what I did," Gottas said. "You deserved nothing of the sort. I disrespected you in a way that was uncalled for. I ask for forgiveness. I changed in the 113 days since it happened. My life ended that night. I know it's time to grow up and quit hiding behind alcohol and whatever other excuses."

Gamble pointed out that age 24, Gottas already had two arrests for domestic violence.

One charge, from 2005 in Phoenix, was dismissed, Gottas said.

He described it as a "screaming match."

That prompted the victim to tell the judge how frustrated she was.

"The whole case in Arizona got dismissed but that doesn't mean it didn't happen," she said.

She was not the victim in that case.

"Anybody who says, 'I'm sorry this happened,' should say, 'I'm sorry I did this to you,'" she said. "I can't tell if he really changed when my whole life is completely different for the rest of my life."

Gamble said he would give Gottas one opportunity to prove himself.

"I don't know of a decent excuse for somebody beating on somebody who is weaker than you are," Gamble said. "You changed lives, you have damaged lives " including your own.

"If I see you back here with one instance of violence in your life or a failure of probation, you are going to prison," Gamble said.

In addition to the suspended sentence, Gamble ordered Gottas to pay $1,888.42 restitution at $50 a month, abstain from drugs and alcohol for the entire probation, attend and complete recommended counseling, and have no contact with the victim or her family.

He must attend anger management counseling and complete 80 hours of community service.

"I want you to leave here with this: The sense you have of yourself now is the one you have to keep. That is of a person who has no excuse to do something horrible to someone you cared for. You're intelligent enough to know if you mess this up, you'll go to prison for a minimum of 28 months," Gamble said.


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