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Defendant spars with judge during kidnapping sentencing

Defendant spars with judge during kidnapping sentencing

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A military veteran sentenced a day after Veterans Day for firing shots in and near a Bismarck apartment earlier this year verbally sparred with the judge who sentenced him to four years in prison, sarcastically wishing him a happy holiday as the hearing ended.

Christopher Williams, 39, of Bismarck, was charged in January with kidnapping, terrorizing and reckless endangerment. Police said Williams forced his way into a Summit Avenue apartment and held a gun on a man. Williams allegedly fired one shot while inside the apartment, another in the air as the men left and one more as they approached Williams' vehicle. The man told police he heard another shot as he fled.

The incident apparently stemmed from a dispute between the two men, according to police. No one was injured.

Williams at his trial in August changed his not guilty plea to guilty after opening arguments and testimony from three witnesses.

Williams on Thursday disagreed with South Central District Judge David Reich’s sentence of seven years in prison with all but four years suspended on the kidnapping charge.

“I’ve never even completed a crime in my whole life and you’re going to give me four years?” Williams asked.

Reich’s sentence was half of what Assistant Burleigh County State’s Attorney Karlei Neufeld recommended but more than that sought by defense attorney James Wiese, who said Williams is a combat veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and also was experiencing other stresses at the time of the incident.

Williams has accepted responsibility for “acting out obviously in a manner that was not appropriate,” Wiese said. He asked the judge for a two-year sentence that included treatment for anger management.

Williams pressed Reich on the sentence, asking him if he had read the presentence report. The judge said he could still hand down a lengthier sentence if Williams persisted in his argument.

“It seems to me that you’re not accepting responsibility and not acknowledging the serious nature of the offenses you committed,” Reich said.

“Justice wasn’t done today, that’s all,” Williams said.

Reich gave Williams credit for 294 days served. The judge also ordered that Williams spend two years on supervised probation, complete anger management treatment and undergo treatment for PTSD.

Williams wished Reich a happy Veterans Day as the hearing closed. Veterans Day was observed Wednesday.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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