Judge gives man convicted of 14th Street stabbing a chance at sobriety on probation

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Lawrence police officers investigate outside of an apartment building at 121 W. 14th St. in Lawrence on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, after a reported stabbing. The victim, who was in the building's parking lot when police arrived, was flown to a hospital.

A man convicted of a stabbing last fall in Lawrence will be allowed to serve probation instead of prison, giving him a last chance to get sober and stay out of trouble.

Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff on Monday sentenced Vantino F. Peaches, 30, of Lawrence, to two years on probation with court-ordered intensive outpatient treatment for alcoholism and an alcohol monitoring device.

Peaches’ underlying sentence, should he fail to abide by his probation, is a total of 46 months, or more than 3 1/2 years, in prison.

Peaches said he understood the conditions of his probation and was ready to make a change.

“My alcoholism’s caused all of this. I’m just ready to kick it,” he told the court.

The sentence was recommended by Peaches’ appointed attorney, Forrest Lowry, and prosecutor Deb Moody after a plea agreement that encompassed the stabbing case and two other charges.

Vantino F. Peaches

In February, Peaches pleaded no contest and was convicted of one count of aggravated battery, a felony, in connection with the Sept. 6, 2017 stabbing outside an apartment in the 100 block of West 14th Street.

The victim, who lived at the apartment, told police that he and Peaches had a falling out over a girl and money, and that Peaches stabbed him in the abdomen after the two agreed to a fistfight. The 30-year-old stabbing victim was flown to a hospital but survived.

Peaches also pleaded no contest and was convicted of one count of interference with law enforcement for lying about his identity to a police officer who arrested him about a week after the stabbing, and one count of forgery for stealing a check from his father and forging his name to cash it in 2016.

Lowry said Peaches had an “alcohol problem of quite a severe nature” that began when he was 18 and grew worse during college — which he came a year from completing — and beyond. Peaches realizes the severity of his crimes and that he needs help with his alcoholism, Lowry said.

Peaches’ father is a “responsible member of the community,” supportive of his son and would allow him to live with him while he gets treatment, Lowry said.

Moody, noting Peaches’ criminal history, described probation for Peaches as a last chance.

“Every single case that’s been before this court is because of his alcoholism,” she said.

Peaches’ punishment would have been imprisonment under state sentencing guidelines. In granting probation, the judge approved a motion to depart from those guidelines, filed by Peaches’ attorney.

Huff cited information from Peaches’ substance abuse evaluation and said she hoped probation would give him an opportunity to get where he wanted to be in life as a 30-year-old. She said if Peaches demonstrated a “long period of sobriety” and found a job, she would consider a request for early discharge from probation.

“You have been drinking for a long time,” Huff said. “The first thing that absolutely needs to be done is to get a handle on the alcoholism.”