A former Baldwin High School student was placed on probation and received a stern lecture from a judge Wednesday after pleading no contest to hitting a fellow student in the head with a broomstick and causing serious head injuries.
"I think you should consider yourself very lucky that you're not here for something more serious," Douglas County Judge Pro Tem Peggy Kittel told Kenneth Goff, 18. "It could easily have turned into a death."
Kittel said she wanted to send Goff to the Douglas County Jail for 28 days as part of a sentence. The law, however, doesn't allow her to do that, she said.
Goff was 17 when he was arrested in May after he hit Anthony McClintock during what was described by a school official at the time as a "horsing around" incident in a transportation technology class.
McClintock still is recovering from the head injuries and is undergoing extensive physical therapy, said his mother, Tamara McClintock.
Goff was charged as a juvenile with aggravated battery and has largely been under house arrest since the incident. He was scheduled to go to trial Wednesday, but a plea bargain agreement was worked out with prosecutors.
Goff pleaded no contest to a reduced level of aggravated battery. The reduced charge took away the judge's option of sentencing Goff to a state juvenile correctional facility, Assistant Dist. Atty. Bethany Daniels said.
But Goff faces up to 18 months in custody if he doesn't abide by a long list of restrictions and requirements laid down by Kittel.
One of the requirements is a letter of apology to Anthony McClintock.
"Whether the family accepts it is their choice," Kittel said.
At the sentencing, Goff told Tamara McClintock that he was sorry for what happened.
Among other requirements, Goff must:
l Complete a high school equivalency program;
l Complete 100 hours of community service;
l Complete family and social counseling programs through Douglas County Community Youth Services;
l Avoid drugs and alcohol.
A restitution amount is still to be determined to help with Anthony McClintock's medical bills.
The house arrest ended with the sentencing. There is no time limit for the probation. Youth Services will determine when Goff has completed the programs and the restrictions can be lifted, Daniels said.
After the sentencing, Clark Davis, the attorney for Tamara McClintock, said a civil lawsuit against Goff "is something we're contemplating."
Davis said the McClintock family had hoped for additional house arrest time for Goff, but Davis was encouraged by the strong words used by Kittel.
"I think it showed the severity of the crime," Davis said.
Anthony McClintock, 18, is undergoing physical therapy to regain full use of his right hand and right arm, Davis said. The teen also is working with a speech therapist.
Anthony McClintock has enrolled in Johnson County Community College and has been accepted into the college's special needs program.
It is unclear now whether his physical condition will prevent him from attaining his dream of becoming an electrical engineer.
"We have no idea," Tamara McClintock said.