Paintball suspect pleads guilty to charges

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The first of three Craig youths charged in connection with paintball attacks in January on children and livestock has pleaded guilty to all charges.

Christopher Gene James, 16, pleaded guilty to three counts of assault in the second degree with a deadly weapon, a class 2 felony, felony stalking, and cruelty to animals, a class 1 misdemeanor, as part of a plea agreement Monday.

The agreement is a deferred adjudication, which means all sentences will be suspended for one year and James will be on probation. If James has no violations for one year, the charges, and the associated guilty pleas, will be dismissed.

Deputy District Attorney Bonnie Roesink said if James has a violation "of any kind" during the year of probation, he will face the sentence for the new violation plus the sentences for the charges included in the plea agreement.

District Court Judge Joel Thompson ordered James to report for a pre-sentence investigation. James' sentencing hearing is set for May 6 and at that hearing Thompson will set the conditions of James' probation.

James, Benjamin Luke Bennett, 16, and Robert Gene Wilson, 16, were arrested by Craig police officers Jan. 1 for a series of paintball attacks in and around Craig. In one of the attacks, Wilson, Bennett and James allegedly attacked two 10-year-old boys with paintball guns at the Cathy Cisar sledding area shooting one of the boys in the face twice, causing bruising and swelling. A witness also reported to police that three youths fired at horses in a pasture near 13th Street and Bryan Way.

Another witness reported to police that their child was attacked three separate times by Wilson, Bennett and James.

Each youth is charged with three counts of assault in the second degree with a deadly weapon, a class 2 felony, felony stalking, and cruelty to animals, a class 1 misdemeanor.

Wilson last appeared in court on May 11. He had not yet acquired legal counsel so his hearing was continued until May 6.

Charles Feldmann, representing Bennett, told the court on March 25 he expected a plea agreement to be finalized in the near future. Bennett is also due to appear on May 6.

Roesink said that because the case involves juveniles, the most likely sentence if probation were violated would be another two years of probation.

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