A Carson City teen was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison Tuesday for his part in the stabbing of a fast-food worker whom he thought was a rival gang member.
Christopher Piche, 18, was given credit for 120 days time served, after pleading guilty in June to assault with a deadly weapon with a gang enhancement that automatically doubles his sentence.
"I can't wait to hit the pen already," Piche wrote from the Carson City Jail to a fellow gang member in prison, according to a letter intercepted by jail staff on June 13.
District Attorney Neil Rombardo pointed out hat Piche also detailed in that letter what happened on March 17 when he and co-defendant Irvin Garcia, 18, jumped the counter at Jack-in-the-Box on Retail Drive and stabbed an employee who'd traded shifts with their intended target. The victim has since recovered.
"Christopher Piche, along with his colleagues, decided they would go up to the Waterfall fire area and drink cognac all day, smoke marijuana and do other activities," said Rombardo. "Afterwards, they ... were upset that a colleague of theirs was stabbed by a rival gang. So what they decided to do was to come down from that area, drive to Jack-in-the-Box in town and go find this gentleman who was a rival gang member."
Rombardo said Piche's juvenile record indicates he violated his probation on marijuana possession and alcohol consumption charges on a number of occasions.
"He believes he can do what he wants and not be held accountable."
The district attorney asked for 28 to 72 months in prison on the assault charge and an additional 28 to 72 months in prison for the gang enhancement. "There is no hope for Mr. Piche," he said.
Defense attorney Ben Walker told the judge that because Piche didn't have the knife, and did not even hit the victim, that he was less culpable than Garcia, who did.
"They went to Jack-in-the-Box and ordered food, which indicates to me that it wasn't planned," Walker said, in asking for a sentence of one to six years. "He didn't know Mr. Garcia was armed."
Judge Bill Maddox went with the recommendation from parole and probation of 24 to 72 months on each count, running consecutively.
Maddox told Piche, dressed in bright yellow jail garb indicating his high-risk status, that it was unlike him to send such a young man to prison.
"I absolutely hate incarcerating you at your age. I hope I'm not condemning you to a life of crime," the judge said. "But violence is the absolute last resort that anyone should ever use and it's your first. That's what dogs do."
Piche declined to make a statement on his own behalf, responding quietly to the judge's pointed questions.
"How would you like it if your brothers or sisters or daughter were sitting around and someone came in and stabbed them? Is that the kind of society you want to be living in?" Maddox asked.
Piche shook his head and said, "no."
"Then why are you trying to create that kind of society? That's what you're doing. It's insane. Absolutely insane," said Maddox. "You're acting like a dog. When I say that, it's insulting to dogs."
Co-defendant Garcia's sentencing was continued to next Tuesday.
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.