Main Street attack: ‘mutual simple combat’
November 27, 2009
A man charged in a Main Street attack during the Sundance Film Festival has filed a statement in Third District Court denying he is responsible for the victim’s injuries, challenging assertions Ryan Bilbrey’s side makes in a lawsuit.
Kyle Erickson turned in a handwritten response to the lawsuit claiming it was Bilbrey and the people with Bilbrey who started the confrontation. Erickson, who is wanted on an arrest warrant for not appearing at a scheduled court date to face criminal charges stemming from the episode, describes the confrontation as "mutual simple combat" provoked by Bilbrey, his wife and others. Erickson says in the response he could not have "possibly inflicted such injuries" as Bilbrey claims in the lawsuit.
"At no time did he kick or (strike) plaintiff in a manner to cause the alleged injuries . . . ," Erickson says in his response, adding that he did not ask or encourage others to help in the confrontation, which he calls an alleged altercation.
The response indicates Erickson, who is 25 years old and from Lehi, will act as his own attorney as he defends himself against the lawsuit. He requests a jury trial in the lawsuit. He wants the claims against him dismissed and Bilbrey denied monetary damages, Erickson says in the response.
The other defendant in the lawsuit, John Cook, turned in a two-sentence response, challenging key claims made by Bilbrey.
The two filed their answers to the lawsuit within nine days of each other in October, and they were turned in at about the same time Cook went to trial for the attack. A jury convicted him of a class A misdemeanor assault count. Sentencing is scheduled on Monday. He faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Judges sometimes order restitution as well.
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"I was, frankly, happy to get answers," said Brad Bearnson, the attorney who is representing Bilbrey in the lawsuit. "I kind of thought they might ignore us . . . not respond at all."
Bearnson said he disputes the statements from Cook and Erickson, calling the confrontation an "unprovoked attack."
The police captured Cook the night of the attack, but Erickson fled the scene and then eluded officers that night. The authorities captured him midsummer in Utah County.
Erickson recently missed a court date, prompting an arrest warrant to be issued. He has since contacted the Justice Court at Silver Summit, but the warrant remains active, according to a court clerk. He is free after posting bail in the summer.
A pretrial conference in front of Judge Shauna Kerr is scheduled Dec. 9. A trial date is not set. He faces four charges, including two assault counts. Each of the charges is a misdemeanor.
Bilbrey suffered extensive injuries to his face in the attack and has testified about the repeated surgeries he has required to repair the damage. The confrontation was a rare case of brutality on Main Street, where fights normally do not escalate beyond fisticuffs.
Bilbrey and the others he was with were on the upper stretch of Main Street when they encountered Cook and Erickson. Words were exchanged and the Bilbreys were harassed before Ryan Bilbrey and Erickson started to tussle, Bilbrey testified during Cook’s trial. Cook then kicked Bilbrey in the face while Bilbrey was on the ground.
Bilbrey has said he wants to address the courtroom on Monday before Cook is sentenced. He has said he would describe "the real pain it caused."