Ward gets 5 years in Ranchos brawl death | RecordCourier.com
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Ward gets 5 years in Ranchos brawl death

by Sheila Gardner
Staff Writer

Michael Ward was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for his part in the death of a Woodfords man last summer after a brawl in the Gardnerville Ranchos.

The 22-year-old Gardnerville man must serve a minimum of 19 months before he is eligible for parole.

Handcuffed and wearing orange and blue jail garb, Ward turned to face the family and friends of the victim, Jeffrey John, 24.

“I’m sorry,” Ward said, at one point choking back tears. “I wish it had never happened. One day we’ll all be together in heaven, I hope. I don’t hate you guys and I hope you don’t hate me. I have love in my heart. I’m sorry.”

Prosecutor Dina Salvucci had asked for the maximum on all three counts to be served consecutively which would have totaled 14-1/2 years.

District Judge Michael Gibbons imposed the sentences concurrently.

Ward was convicted Dec. 7 by a jury of five men and seven women of battery with a deadly weapon, involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor battery in connection with John’s death.

The victim’s body was found June 24 in a yard at the intersection of Tillman and Zinfandel.

A coroner’s report said John died of cardiac arrhythmia ” an irregular heartbeat ” following an altercation with Ward who chased him with a knife and cut him, according to witnesses.

Ronald Mogab, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Minden, testified Monday he had been meeting weekly with Ward for about 3-1/2 months and had seen a change.

“Originally, he had some personal issues about his standing with the Lord,” Mogab said. “His main concern was could God ever forgive him for what he did. The first two or three times, he said, ‘I was just defending myself. I was just defending myself.’

“Amazingly, on his own, he has become concerned about the other person’s family. He wanted to approach the other family to apologize.”

Eventually, Mogab said, Ward was able to acknowledge the family’s loss and his role in it.

He said once Ward has served his sentence, he wants to leave the area and work in the oil industry.

Mogab said Ward told him he was through with drugs and alcohol.

“He wants to have a fresh start,” Mogab said.