Judge suspends jail time for second Sundance hoodlum | ParkRecord.com

Judge suspends jail time for second Sundance hoodlum

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The second man to face charges stemming from a violent attack during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts during an early February court appearance, acknowledging that he took part in a confrontation on Main Street that left a festival-goer with terrible injuries.

Kyle Erickson, who is 25 years old and from Lehi, pleaded guilty to an assault charge, which is a class B misdemeanor, and a charge of disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor, according to a Justice Court clerk. A second assault charge that had been filed against Erickson and a public intoxication charge were dismissed as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Judge Shauna Kerr sentenced Erickson to serve 20 days in jail, but she suspended the jail time under the condition that he comply with other parts of the sentence. He must complete 40 hours of community service within 120 days, pay $1,500 in fines and assessments and complete two classes, including one meant to help someone with anger management. Erickson was placed on probation for 12 months.

A class B misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by a jail sentence of up to 90 days and a fine of up to $750.

His appearance before Kerr came quickly after Erickson missed a scheduled court date at the end of January. At that time, the judge issued a $2,500 warrant for his arrest. Erickson did not have an attorney with him when he entered his pleas, a Justice Court clerk said.

Erickson and prosecutors had been negotiating a plea agreement when he did not appear for the January court date. He had also missed a court date earlier. Kerry Gaines, the City Hall prosecutor who brought the charges against Erickson, said she had offered him a deal involving a guilty plea to assault but withdrew the offer after he did not attend one of the scheduled court appearances. She demanded the guilty plea to the disorderly conduct charge as well as a result of his absence, Gaines said.

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"I think it’s a fair plea agreement," she said.

Gaines spoke to the victim in the attack, Ryan Bilbrey, before finalizing the deal with Erickson.

The confrontation occurred on Jan. 18, 2009, during the busy opening weekend of Sundance. It was a rare instance of random street violence in Park City. Bilbrey, his wife and the people they were with were on the upper stretch of Main Street that night when they encountered Erickson and a man with him.

Erickson was lying on the sidewalk as Bilbrey and the others walked by, words were exchanged and Erickson got up to follow them. Prosecutors said Erickson spat at Bilbrey’s wife and threw the lid of a trash can at her as he tried to provoke a fight.

Bilbrey stepped in and scuffled with Erickson, eventually falling to the ground. The man with Erickson, John Cook, then viciously kicked Bilbrey in the face, causing extensive injuries. Police officers who responded to the attack quickly caught Cook, but Erickson eluded them for nearly six months. He was captured in Utah County midsummer.

In a Monday interview, Bilbrey said Erickson was the "instigator" in the case. Bilbrey, who is from Los Angeles, said he spoke to Gaines about a plea agreement between prosecutors and Erickson at least a month before the deal was finalized, calling it "reasonable."

He said Erickson apologized to him outside the courtroom during Cook’s trial in the attack. Bilbrey said the charges against Erickson — each a misdemeanor — were "justified" since he did not cause the injuries.

"If it had ended at that point and they would have walked away, we would have walked away," Bilbrey said.

Erickson’s guilty pleas came approximately two months after another judge, Bruce Lubeck, locked up Cook, 27 years old and from Lindon, for his role in the attack. A jury earlier convicted him of assault in the attack. The conviction was a class A misdemeanor, a slightly more serious crime than those in the Erickson case. Lubeck sentenced Cook to 300 days in jail and ordered him to pay $11,514 in restitution to Bilbrey and another $5,122 in restitution to the state. The judge called the attack a "monstrous event" as he sent Cook to jail.

Bilbrey has filed a lawsuit against Cook and Erickson. The two defendants have challenged the assertions in the lawsuit. A trial date in the lawsuit is not scheduled.