Man won't get prison credit for rehab stay

From staff reports

A Rochester man convicted of aiding in a near-fatal assault of a teenager years ago will not get credit for nearly 10 months he served in a residential treatment facility before being sentenced to prison last fall.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals sided with the Olmsted County Attorney's Office in ruling that Olmsted District Judge Joseph Chase erred in giving Fithi Chernet Asfaha credit for 288 days served at the Bar None residential treatment facility in Anoka, Minn..

Chase sentenced Asfaha in September 2001 to serve eight years in prison after violating terms of his probation by being convicted of new criminal charges in Dakota County. He originally was sentenced on the first-degree assault charges in 1996, and Chase found that there had been multiple violations.

The original charge was in connection with the brutal assault of Shawn Kern in February 1996. Kern, who was 16 at the time, was in a coma for several days and was hospitalized for weeks after the attack. Doctors testified Kern would have died had he not received immediate medical care.


Asfaha struck an agreement and pleaded guilty. 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 any violations.

When Chase issued the original prison sentence last September, he gave Asfaha credit for 288 days served in the residential treatment program. The county attorney's office appealed.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday agreed, saying that state sentencing guidelines dictate that offenders are not entitled to jail credit for time spent in residential treatment facilities as a condition of probation. The appeals judges noted there was little doubt that the level of security at the Bar None intensive-treatment program meets or exceeds the security level of some state correctional facilities, and the judges said they were not unsympathetic to Chase's observations on that point. But, they said, the guidelines simply don't permit jail credit under these circumstances.

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