All it took for Johnathon Forte, 20, to change a man’s life forever was a single punch to the face.
The victim of Forte’s attack spoke at Forte’s sentencing Monday to describe the damage inflicted by that blow. He had been looking for Forte and Forte’s friend, who had knocked on his door earlier when he was asleep. When he found them, Forte, who believed the victim was behind a hit-and-run, told the victim he “messed with the wrong family.”
The victim, who’s in his upper 40s, said he rolled up his passenger side window to prevent Forte from entering the vehicle, but that Forte went around to the driver’s side and punched him in the face.
The victim required plates and screws to repair broken bones. He is no longer able to drink without a straw and can only chew with the right side of his mouth.
Court records state that when an officer interviewed the victim, his face appeared to have caved in. Doctors told him he needed surgery, but they would have to wait a week because of the severity of the swelling. He sees less with his left eye than he did before the attack.
The victim also discussed the effect the attack had on his 9-year-old daughter, who was in the car at the time and saw her father bleeding and calling for help. According to the victim, she was afraid to return to school out of fear Forte would find her there, or that he would attack her parents while she was gone.
“She keeps crying and telling us we need to move so he doesn’t know where we live,” the victim said.
District Judge Jon Shindurling sentenced Forte to retained jurisdiction with an underlying sentence of two to 15 years in prison.
Defense Attorney Rocky Wixom argued for a sentence of probation, saying he had seen a change in Forte’s attitude since he was charged. Describing Forte as a “difficult client” at the beginning of the case, Wixom said Forte had since expressed guilt over what happened.
“We believe Mr. Forte has learned his lesson, that you don’t resolve conflicts like this,” Wixom said.
Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor Alayne Bean pointed to the harm Forte caused the victim, arguing for the rider program. She cited a statement Forte made to the presentence investigator that he believed the victim was going to attack him. Bean said his actions didn’t indicate he was defending himself, noting the victim went around the car in order to reach the victim.
Though Forte had no history of felonies, he has served time as a juvenile for misdemeanors, including assault and battery.
Forte gave a statement apologizing for his actions and asking Shindurling to release him on probation.
“I turned into someone I shouldn’t have been,” Forte said.
Under a retained jurisdiction, also known as a rider program, Forte will undergo a treatment program for six months to a year. The judge will then decide whether to release Forte on probation or to impose the underlying sentence.