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Stabber sentenced to 18 months in jail

Convicted stabber Isaiah Shepherd will be headed off to prison for at least a year, following his sentencing last Friday.

Shepherd, 18, was acquitted of nearly all the charges associated with a Dec. 31 brawl that left two young men wounded. However, he was convicted of a single lesser-included charge of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing one man — 22-year-old Jamin Mason.

The second-degree assault charge was offered to the jury by the prosecution as an alternative to the primary first-degree assault charges.

Shepherd, a former South Kitsap High School student, seemed unsure of how to react to the proceedings. He intermittently flashed grins to his family, mouthing, “I’m not worried,” and talking about snowboarding — a sport he used to write articles about for the high school newspaper.

However, his expression quickly lapsed back into the pensive “game face” he has worn through most of his court appearances.

When asked to address the court before his sentence was pronounced, he only had one thing to say:

“Your honor, I didn’t really want things to turn out this way, but since they did turn out the way they did, I pray justice may be served,” Shepherd said.

Deputy prosecutor Tom Morris, who stood in for the case’s regular prosecutor Andy Anderson, asked the court to impose the maximum end of Shepherd’s standard sentencing range. Because Shepherd has no criminal record, his standard range is between three and nine months — not including the mandatory 12-month sentence he earned for the deadly weapon enhancement.

Morris reminded the two injured men had to be hospitalized for their stab wounds and a doctor’s examination showed Jamin Mason had been stabbed in the back.

“The state feels in the extreme serious nature of the crime ... it would be seeking 21 months,” Morris said.

Shepherd’s defense attorney, Jacob Murphy, and Shepherd’s parents painted a different picture, however. Murphy pointed out the stab wounds were not serious — certainly not life-threatening — and presented the judge with a packet of five letters from members of the community, all attesting to Shepherd’s upstanding reputation. He requested the judge give Shepherd the lowest end of the range — 15 months total confinement.

Shepherd’s father, Henry Shepherd II, said the court was doing his son a disservice by punishing him for being honest and cooperating with the police in their investigation.

Shepherd said his son was just trying to defend his friends when he stabbed Jamin and said any boy his son’s age would have trouble making good decisions in a situation like that.

“That’s too much pressure for a child to be put in,” Mr. Shepherd said. “They’re going to make a mistake.”

Isaiah Shepherd’s mother, Pearl, said all of her son’s current problems — he still has pending burglary charges for crimes allegedly committed last summer — can be traced directly the the group of kids he began hanging around with about a year ago. She said jail wasn’t the way to help her son — a good kid who made some mistakes.

“He’s been raised in church all his life,” Mrs. Shepherd said. “For the most part, Isaiah is an individual that takes pride in himself.”

Neither Jamin Mason nor his family attended the sentencing.

Presiding Judge Anna Laurie said she knew many of the people who had written letters in support of Shepherd and respected their judgement. She said it was clear Shepherd had been well brought-up by his parents.

“It is also clear to me you fell from that path at some point,” Laurie added.

She opted to split the difference of the two requests and sentence Shepherd to 18 total months in prison. Laurie also waived the expert witness fees because she said it was unlikely Shepherd — who is indigent — would ever be able to repay the $1,000-plus in court fees levied against him.

“Mr. Shepherd,” Laurie concluded, “everyone here hopes this is your last encounter with the law enforcement system. Don’t come back.”

Shepherd’s burglary trial is currently scheduled for June 9.

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