Jury finds Gardnerville man guilty of battery | RecordCourier.com

Jury finds Gardnerville man guilty of battery

Donald Eby
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

A Gardnerville man was found guilty Friday night in the Jan. 2, 2017, beating of his sometime girlfriend

Donald Douglas Eby faces sentencing June 6 on one count of battery causing substantial bodily harm, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Jurors took until 9 p.m., about three hours, to come to a verdict in the, battery after a four-day trial.

They found Eby, 60, innocent of a more severe charge of felony coercion.

Prosecutor Erik Levin conceded that the coercion charge was the weaker of the two.

“I appreciate the consideration the jury gave the case,” he said.

District Judge Tom Gregory allowed Eby to remain out of custody pending his sentencing, but ordered him placed on house arrest with a GPS monitor bracelet and under the supervision of the Department of Alternative Sentencing.

“You’ve had no violations and that’s the reason you’re being released now,” Gregory said.

Eby admitted punching the victim in the face several times.

“I hit her,” he told Investigator Leland Love in a video-taped interview. “She provoked the hell out of me. I hit her in the face with my fist. I feel real bad about it. She’s a little thing, but she’s got a lot of power”

Levin said the victim testified during the trial. Eby testified in his own defense, along with a neighbor and an expert witness who described how people can react when under the influence of alcohol.

During his opening statement, Levin acknowledged the victim had been drinking for two days, but that at 4-feet, 11-inches tall and 90-100 pounds, she was no match for Eby.

Defense attorney Brad Johnston argued that Eby tried to restrain the victim and punched her in the face in order to keep her from hurting him or damaging his property.

A juror speaking to Levin after the trial said the claim the victim kicked Eby in the groin was a sticking point for some on the panel.

During a video-taped interview, Eby told Douglas County Investigator Leland Love that the victim also hit him in the forehead with a thrown object.

The victim was found battered, wearing only a bathrobe, underwear and a zip tie around her wrists.

The day after he was arrested, on the video Eby appeared to express surprise at what she was wearing.

“That doesn’t seem right,” he said, claiming she was wearing pants when the struggle occurred.

After being read a Miranda warning, Eby agreed to speak to Love without an attorney present, the deputy testified on Wednesday.

He said he was helping the woman move after she’d been evicted from her apartment. She came to his home on Centerville Lane after sorting through her belongings at a storage unit.

Eby told Love that she was drinking vodka out of the bottle, and talking about the trouble’s she’d had. Her son had died of an overdose a few weeks before the incident.

“She was just going on and on about all her problems,” he said.

At some point she started throwing things.

“She was trashing my kitchen,” he said. “I don’t know why she had the remote to her TV, but she threw that against the wall and it smashed into a million pieces.

Defense attorneys argued that Eby tried to restrain the victim using zip ties and punched her in the face in self defense.

“I was just trying to restrain her and stop her from trashing my kitchen,” he said. “She was going nuts. I had the zip tie laying on the table and was able to get one on her. It was so quick that I wasn’t thinking.”

Eby described their relationship as just dating, with a little bit of sex but nothing serious.

After the fight Eby told Love he went to bed.

“I really do regret it,” he said. “It was just a reaction to having my stuff broken.”