4 sentenced in beating in Clinton park

Four Whidbey residents, who beat a young man with tree branches and stole a few small items from him in a Clinton park, all pleaded guilty to the same charges and got nearly the same sentence Friday.

Nathan W. Berger, 21, of Coupeville; Kyle G. Gauthier, 19, Langley; Jonathan D. Baker, 21, Langley; and Mark Stephens, 19, South Whidbey, each pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court to fourth-degree assault and third-degree theft.

Judge Vickie Churchill sentenced each of the men to 365 days in jail, with 324 days suspended. Since they all have credit for 41 days in jail, the men were released, but any of them could serve the 324 suspended days if he breaks the law.

Churchill ordered three of the men to pay $1,027 in fines and fees, while Berger was ordered to pay $627. Also, the defendants will share in the restitution costs.

The victim told an investigator that he was playing pool with the group of men May 31 when they invited him to go walking in the park. He claimed they suddenly turned on him and started hitting him with branches, so he grabbed a pocket knife and stabbed Gauthier in self defense.

The man ran away, but his pursuers caught up with him in a parking lot. They fought with branches and his necklace, sunglasses and cap were torn off.

The man sustained a swollen eye, an injured ear, and numerous cuts and scrapes.

An Island County Sheriff's deputy first found out about the assault from Gauthier when he reported he had been stabbed in the leg.

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