Court gives assault defendant credit for time served

By Janice Gregorson

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed a decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in the case of Fithi Chernet Asfaha.

Last summer, the appeals court overturned a district court decision giving Asfaha credit for 288 days he served at the Bar None residential treatment facility in Anoka, Minn. Asfaha appealed that decision and on Thursday, the Supreme Court reinstated the credit granted by Olmsted District Judge Joseph Chase.

The case against Asfaha dates back to 1996 when he was among people charged with assaulting Shawn Kern. Kern was 16 at the time and was in a coma for several days and hospitalized for weeks after the assault. Doctors testified the teen would have died had he not received immediate medical care.


Asfaha struck an agreement and pleaded guilty to the assault charges. He was sentenced in adult court, but ordered to complete a juvenile treatment program and testify against his co-defendants.

His 98-month prison sentence was stayed, and he was put on probation for 20 years, meaning the prison sentence could be imposed if there were violations. In September 2001, Chase found Asfaha had violated conditions and ordered him to serve the eight-year prison term. But Chase gave him credit for the time served in the juvenile treatment facility. Olmsted County appealed that order.

While the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Asfaha, justices have declined to review two other Olmsted County cases.

They turned down the appeal of Gerald Wayne Stahl, now serving a 52-year prison sentence for the rape and attempted murder of a young woman in 1997. He appealed the consecutive sentences given him, arguing the rape and attempted murder charge arose from a single course of conduct. The appeals court upheld the sentence, and Stahl then asked the high court to review the case.

Justices also refused to hear the appeal brought by Brett Allyn Boyd, who was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for assaulting another man in 2001. Boyd argued that the evidence didn't support the jury convictions and that there were errors in the sentence. In May, the appeals court upheld the sentence, and Boyd sought review by the supreme court.

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