Travises receive probation in 2012 incident
August 20, 2013
Two Idaho men received probation Tuesday in District Court stemming from a deadly brawl at the Overland Hotel in January 2012.
Kevin and Levi Travis were part of the blood-filled melee and were placed on probation. Kevin Travis, who entered an Alford plea to one count of conspiracy to commit battery, a gross misdemeanor, in May, received 364 days in jail, which was suspended.
His son, Kevin Travis, also entered an Alford plea to one count of attempt to commit involuntary manslaughter, a felony, in May. His suspended sentence consists of 18 to 48 months in prison. Both men were each ordered to pay $31,472.71 in restitution plus additional court fines.
Levi Travis is on probation for up to five years, while Kevin Travis' probation period is up to three years. Both cannot possess or consume alcohol, must abide by any curfew and numerous other special conditions.
The Travises legal team of David Houston and Cotter Conway asked Judge Robert Estes to uphold the agreement between the defense and the Churchill County District Attorney's Office. When reading Levi Travis' sentence, Estes paused for a few seconds before allowing probation.
Estes, however, demanded from the Department of Parole and Probation if "any violations whatsoever occur, they are to be brought back."
The hearing, though, was filled with emotional and angry testimony from one of the victims, Linda Johnson, and family members of the late Harvey Olson, Patty and Herbert Olson.
Linda Johnson and her husband Rick, along with Harvey Olson, were at the bar on the night of Jan. 22, 2012, when the brawl broke out. Linda Johnson said the Travises nearly killed her husband and the two suffer every day.
She added Rick Johnson cannot work, and she is the sole provider for the two.
"You ambushed them and you stalked them and we don't even know why," Linda Johnson said. "I think you are evil."
Patty Olson, meanwhile, said the Travises took away her best friend — the one person she could count on. While the victims are suffering, "you two are living the high life," Patty Olson said.
She also directed anger toward how the case was resolved and said it was because the defendants had money and that the case would cost too much to prosecute.
Houston, meanwhile, said "the idea that my clients are not taking this case seriously is a misconception."
On the night in question, the group of men sat at the bar drinking alcohol and watching the NFL playoffs. The Idaho men stopped in Fallon during a trip from Idaho to California.
The prosecution, led by Churchill County Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills, claim the Travises started the brawl after Levi Travis uttered a homophobic slur. The defense, meanwhile, claims it was Rick Johnson and Harvey Olson who initiated the fight.
The brawl was bloody and violent, according to testimony during the preliminary hearing.
Linda and Rick Johnson also testified as eyewitnesses to the fatal events. Both said the brawl erupted unexpectedly after sharing numerous drinks with the Travises throughout the night.
According to Rick Johnson, he was blindsided with a punch to the head and knocked to the ground by one of the Travises. The two men then battled with Harvey Olson near the pool table.
Johnson, who said he was a bit dizzy, crawled to the pool table and pulled himself up and came to Olson's aid. Johnson said he grabbed Kevin Travis and put him in a headlock and dragged Travis about 4 feet away from the pool table. Johnson was then hit in the back of the head, according to his testimony, and knocked unconscious.
Olson, meanwhile, suffered numerous blows from kicks, punches and barstools, according to Linda and Rick Johnson.
Patty Olson testified at the preliminary hearing that her brother was placed in a medically induced coma at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno after the fight. She was with him when he returned to consciousness for a short time several days later.
Defense expert witnesses were prepared to testify that Olson was terminal and any injuries sustained in the brawl were incidental.
During the defense's investigation, it was also discovered Olson brandished a knife and attacked one of the Travises. The brawl, according to a defense witness, was initiated by Olson and Johnson, which supported the defense's claim during the preliminary hearing that Olson had a reputation for fighting and who would have started the incident.
Mills said the knife was discovered after the brawl by witness cleaning up at the bar. It was turned in by Linda Johnson, but Fallon police did not file a report of the weapon.
"It was one of the things that came up in litigation," he said of the knife.
Mills added in March 2013 DNA results matched that of Harvey Olson's. Mills said the knife could have tilted the trial in favor of the defense, although it was not the deciding factor.
"There were a number of complicated factors in the case including the medical history of the victim (Harvey Olson)," he said. "We believe given the facts and circumstances looking at all the evidence, this was the appropriate result."
Despite the outcome, Mills said "we certainly feel for the victims. They have lost a loved one and we understand that. But our job is to look at the facts and make decisions based on that."