Teen sentenced for battery
Douglas High School senior Justin Maes was sentenced to either 10 days in jail or 30 days in the Carson City Youth Detention Center by District Judge Michael Gibbons for breaking another student’s thumb.
Maes, now 18, was a juvenile when the offense, battery with intent to cause substantial bodily harm, occurred Oct. 24, 1996 so the court was required to treat him as one.
“Sending him to Elko wouldn’t accomplish anything,” said Gibbons. “However, I can only put a juvenile in jail in extreme cases, but I think this qualifies.
Maes was also ordered to remain on formal probation indefinitely, pay $152.40 in restitution to the victim, pay a $1,000 fine, complete 100 hours of community service, and participate in the Aspen alternative justice program if the victim chooses to do so.
Vicky Lamb of the Juvenile Probation Office and Deputy District Attorney Derrick Lopez who prosecutes juvenile cases, recommended that Maes be barred from all high school activities including graduation parties, the senior prom and the baseball team, of which he is currently the captain.
Lopez said Maes got into an altercation with the victim when Maes told the victim to put on a shirt. The victim made an obscene hand gesture causing Maes to grab his hand and twist his thumb backwards until it broke.
Lopez said there was a crowd of students who heard the victim’s thumb snap. Lopez said that when the bone broke, Maes told the victim that next time it would be his nose that would be broken.
Maes’ attorney Tod Young argued that the penalties concerning Maes being barred from all activities were too harsh.
“His conduct I make no attempt to excuse,” said Young. “This behavior wasn’t acceptable, but starts out as a couple of teenage boys mouthing off and one went too far. But the recommendation to ban him from high school activities also goes too far.
“I don’t think this young man will ever in his life be in jail again. This kid has changed. He’s grown up.”
Lopez argued that the victim, an avid winter sport participant, missed various activities which he enjoys such as snowboarding and skiing because of his injury.
He said the restrictions recommended are appropriate punishment for the crime, not Young’s recommendations of community service and restitution. Lopez said these are only ways for Maes to repay the community for debts he has already incurred, not a form of punishment.
Lopez said barring Maes from his remaining high school activities would serve a useful purpose.
“When people say, ‘Where’s Justin,’ the answer is, ‘He’s not here because he hurt someone.’ That’s a type of punishment,” said Lopez.
“I don’t want Justin to just feel inconvenienced,” said Lamb. “I want him to realize what he did was serious.
“In the long term he will remember what he did and why he missed (the activities) and it might deter him from wrong in his life.”
In addressing the court before his sentencing, Maes said, “First of all, I’m real sorry for my actions causing so much pain. I never could do anything like this again. I feel like a real jerk. My actions in the future won’t be the same.”
In imposing the sentence, Gibbons said that although Maes engaged in an act that was totally reprehensible, he thought Maes was now a different person that the one who committed the crime six moths ago.
“You’ve had two terrible incidents in the past 15 months, that should have an impact on you,” said Gibbons, referring also to Maes’ part in the death of DHS honor student Erin Hackman who was killed in a traffic accident Jan. 6, 1996 in which Maes was allegedly racing with the driver of the vehicle in which Hackman was killed.
After witnessing the accident, Maes drove away from the scene. He later admitted leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving and was sentenced to two weekends in detention and ordered to pay $2,500 in fines.
Gibbons said that because Maes was punished by the school for the battery, he was kicked off the football team, and because Maes is now an adult, he didn’t want to enact a juvenile punishment such as barring Maes from remaining school activities.
However Gibbons did order Maes not to attend any graduation parties other than the sober graduation party sponsored by the high school.
Gibbons warned Maes not to use force to solve his problems in the future because eventually he would run into someone tougher than he.
“Eventually someone will use more force,” said Gibbons. “They’ll pull out a knife or a gun and that will be the end of you.”