A former group home worker should go to prison for abuse against a mentally disabled man that included beating him with a shoe, a prosecutor said Friday.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Rex Beasley urged Judge Michael Malone to break from state sentencing guidelines that call for probation instead of prison for former Community Living Opportunities employee Eric S. Wyatt. Beasley alleged it wasn't a case of an employee getting frustrated once. Rather, he said, Wyatt "tormented" and intimidated the 57-year-old victim during a period of months, including holding him in a standing position by his jaw and sticking a credit card in his mouth.
"The defendant was a bully," Beasley said.
Wyatt, 35, entered a plea this summer to two counts of mistreatment of a dependent adult. He has no criminal record, which means he's presumed to get probation and would face prison time - roughly 18 months per count - only if he failed on probation.
Beasley argued there were "substantial and compelling reasons" under law to give him a prison sentence.
But defense attorney Michael Clarke said Beasley failed to draw any comparisons between Wyatt's case and other dependent-adult abuse cases to show Wyatt's was more egregious. The law already takes into account that victims in these kinds of cases are more vulnerable, Clarke said.
Malone did not decide the matter and rescheduled Wyatt's sentencing for Nov. 8.
Beasley offered a photo showing the victim with a black eye that he said he received from being beaten with his own shoe. He held up the pair of rubber-soled shoes in court for the judge to see. But Clarke said the black eye came from the victim falling and hitting his face on a piece of furniture.
Clarke called a longtime friend of Wyatt's, Heather Bowyer, as a witness. She testified she's a diabetic and that Wyatt has been caring for her for eight years, in part by calling to check on her twice a night. She said she trusts him with her life, and that she doesn't have a backup plan for someone to care for her if Wyatt isn't available.
Another former CLO employee, Dustin D. Taylor, was charged with abusing the same man. He was acquitted of some of the charges at trial earlier this year. He's scheduled to be tried again Oct. 30 on charges for which a jury couldn't reach a verdict.
Both men worked at Ponderosa House, a home operated by CLO at 1205 E. 26th St.