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4 years handed down in attacks

February 2, 2019

A Monroeville man who admitted to stabbings in June that left one person with a gash in his leg and another in critical condition with wounds to his face and chest was ordered Friday to spend four years in prison.

Dakota G. Gebert, 20, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of felony battery in the attacks as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Two other charges of criminal recklessness were dropped as part of the agreement, which called for him to spend no more than five years behind bars.

Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull handed down the sentence in a hearing Friday morning.

Sheriff’s deputies were called about 4:30 a.m. June 22 to the 18400 block of Monroeville Road, where they found a person identified in court documents as H.B. face-down in the mud with “a large open wound on his calf.”

Nearby, Austin Echeman had puncture wounds to his chest and what appeared to be a cut to his face, investigators said. He was taken a hospital in critical condition.

Witnesses told police Gebert, then 19, Echeman, H.B. and others were drinking after stealing liquor from a Meijer store. Echeman allegedly called someone a name, which led to a fight between him and Gebert.

After Gebert was arrested and taken to the Allen County Jail, ”(he) freely stated people were talking (expletive) and he stabbed a person,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

“I think that speaks to his character,” Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tom Chaille said in court Friday.

Defense attorney Jeff Terrill countered, saying there is more to Gebert’s story.

Gebert’s parents died when he was young, Terrill said, and the boy was taken in by his grandparents. There “was a provocation” the night of the stabbings, but Gebert shouldn’t have reacted the way he did, the lawyer said.

“Dakota accepted responsibility,” Terrill said. “He did have some challenges pretty early in his life. I think his immaturity and his post traumatic stress (disorder) and his neurological issues contributed to the way he reacted.”

Pauline Clevenger, Gebert’s grandmother, testified her grandson had cocaine in his system when he was born. At age 15, the boy found his father dead, she said.

Gebert helps around the house, doing chores and cooking, his grandmother said.

“We really need him, and (sending him to prison) will cause a hardship,” Clevenger said.

Chaille asked Gull to reject the hardship argument as a mitigating factor at sentencing and gave the judge photos showing the injuries Gebert caused the victims.

Gull also ordered Gebert to pay more than $35,000 in restitution.

mleblanc@jg.net

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