A 31-year-old Juneau man accused of beating up a local musician on the streets of downtown Juneau and leaving him for dead has pled guilty to felony assault.
Darrin D. Austin changed his plea Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court and admitted to attempted assault in the second degree. The offense could net him up to five years in prison.
A plea deal in place leaves sentencing open to the court. Judge Philip Pallenberg scheduled the sentencing to take place in mid-November.
According to prosecutors, security cameras outside Sealaska Heritage’s new Walter Soboleff building captured the June 6 attack on tape.
The video shows C Scott Fry, 50, a well-known bassist and radio show host, instigating the incident by shoving Austin into a wall on Front Street, but charging documents allege that Austin continued to retaliate after Fry was knocked unconscious by hitting his head on the sidewalk. An affidavit alleges Austin punched and kicked Fry in the face while he was unconscious and stomped down on his head multiple times. Austin then walked away from the scene, police said.
Fry wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse when he was found about a minute later by a police officer, who just happened to be patrolling the area.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Fry told the Empire he spent the month following the attack recovering at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He now has a titanium mesh plate in his left cheek to hold his eye in place, his broken nose has been reset and missing teeth have been reset.
He said he had to relearn how to walk and talk. Now, back in Juneau, he’s re-learning how to play the bass guitar.
“I can still play, but it’s not up to par, not up to my expectations,” he said. “It will probably take a year or more.”
He said he plans on being in the courtroom for the Nov. 12 sentencing, but he hopes he doesn’t have to see the video.
“I’ve heard it’s terrible. I hope I don’t have to see it,” he said.
Fry has no memory of the event. He said he doesn’t know Austin and doesn’t know why they got into a fight. Austin told police in an interview that he doesn’t know Fry either.
“I have no idea,” Fry said about the motivation behind the confrontation. “I’m missing a good portion of time, which they told me isn’t that uncommon for trauma (patients).”
The plea deal in place requires Austin to pay restitution in full to cover Fry’s medical bills. The restitution amount will be determined at a later time.
Another requirement of the plea deal was that Austin had to admit to a sentencing aggravator, which could enhance his prison sentence. Because Austin has a prior felony conviction for falsifying business records in a 2008 Anchorage case, he is automatically facing a presumptive prison term of two to four years. The sentencing aggravator allows prosecutors to ask for five, the maximum allowable for a class ‘C’ felony.
In exchange for those conditions, prosecutors lowered the original charge against Austin, second-degree assault, a class ‘B’ felony, to attempted second-degree assault, a class ‘C’ felony. Austin likely would have been presumptive to serve between four and seven years on the original charge. The maximum possible penalty for a class ‘B’ felonies is 10 years in jail.