Printed on: July 26, 2013

Officials discuss report of stabbing

Twin Falls Times-News

GOODING -- Jason Given felt a blade being pounded into the back of his skull.

Then a stab to the side of his head.

Finally, his assailant, frustrated with the knife, grabbed the sides of his head and began to twist. Given heard something in his neck pop. The attackers ran the blade over Given's neck twice before shocking him with a stun gun and leaving him for dead.

That's the account the 31-year-old Blackfoot man gave authorities, according documents filed in a Gooding County court Thursday.

Ryan Eugene Cunningham, 30, of Wendell, and Thomas K. Hooley, 49, of Twin Falls, were arrested in the July 13 attack. Each was charged with aggravated battery and first-degree kidnapping.

The kidnapping charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Aggravated battery carries a maximum penalty of 15 years and a fine of up to $50,000.

The court documents provided details of Given's recent interview with deputies:

Given said he played dead. He lay on the ground bleeding, his mouth full of dirt, for 5 to 10 minutes until the men left.

Then he got up and "hauled ass up the hill," breaking a toe on the way, according to the documents.

At the top of the hill, he came to Clear Lakes Grade, a road where an off-duty paramedic found him.

Given's wounds were not life-threatening. He was alert but weak when he spoke to authorities, Gooding County Chief Deputy Jerry Pierce told the Times-News.

In court Thursday afternoon, the charges against Cunningham and Hooley were outlined by county Magistrate Judge Casey Robinson.

Hooley is accused of using a stun gun on Given and then hog-tying him to help Cunningham, the primary attacker, according to prosecutors.

If Cunningham is convicted, prosecutors said they'll pursue a weapon enhancement, which adds 15 years to a prison sentence.

Both men have extensive criminal records, Deputy Prosecutor Cindy Campbell said.

Judge Robinson agreed to keep the bond for each man at $1 million. Both men are set for Aug. 1 preliminary hearings.

Initially, Given was reluctant to talk to deputies, because there were warrants out for his arrest. But a deputy told Given the warrants were quashed and he would not be arrested.

According to the court documents, Given and Cunningham were using drugs at a Twin Falls motel the day before the stabbing.

At some point, Hooley showed up and said he wanted to take a ride. He showed Given a pistol and Given went along. Given told deputies he was afraid of being shot. Hooley also had what Given thought was a flashlight, but it turned out to be a stun gun.

The men traveled to the area of an old winery in Gooding County. The three were at some horse stalls when Given felt a shock to his back, lost control of his body and fell to his knees, according to the documents.

Hooley and Cunningham jumped on him and bound his wrists. That's when Given told deputies that he felt the knife stab into his head, with someone trying to beat it in. All he could hear during the attack, he said, was a man grunting while trying to break Given's neck.

Deputies asked Given if he thought he was attacked because he owed people money. Given said he didn't owe anyone money. He said he had been trying to get back items that were stolen from his father.