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Former UI student who assaulted cop will remain a felon

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | NOVEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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A former University of Iowa student will, barring an appeal, remain a convicted felon for the rest of his life after a judge denied his request to defer his sentence Nov. 2.

And that is something one University of Iowa law professor said is difficult to escape.

“The prospects of employment are extremely limited in most states,” said Leonard Sandler, a UI clinical professor of law. “A felony conviction is something that can haunt you in many ways.”

During the sentencing hearing, Branden Plummer said he had an internship with an insurance company lined up — a point his attorney Mark Brown emphasized as a reason to defer his sentence.

“I would hope the court would give him this opportunity politely to prove Ms. Lahey wrong,” Brown said. “That [Plummer] can be productive, toe the line, and succeed.”

The former UI student had previously accepted a plea deal, which dropped an attempted murder charge in exchange for the lesser charge of willful injury, a Class-D felony charge, and inference with official acts inflicting bodily injury.

The charges were a result of Plummer’s assault on Iowa City police Sgt. Brian Krei on Nov. 18, 2011.

Police reports said Krei approached Plummer because he was reportedly disrupting traffic at the intersection of Linn and Burlington Streets. Plummer proceeded to strangle Krei and, according to the state, hit Krei’s head against the sidewalk, causing him to lose consciousness.

Brown also called social worker and psychotherapist Janice Hill to testify on Plummer’s behalf and note what she has seen from Plummer since he returned to her two months ago as well as her previous counseling of him.

Hill said Plummer suffered from “impulse-control issues” that worsen with alcohol, including the night of the assault. Hill said Plummer had entered substance-abuse counseling on his own initiative and further said alcohol is something he should avoid.

Assistant Johnson County prosecutor Anne Lahey seized Hill’s later admission that Plummer still drinks occasionally with his buddies when they watch football.

“Do you feel comfortable predicting this will never happen again?” Lahey asked Hill.

Hill said the incident was “isolated and uncharacteristic of Branden’s behavior” and had “a very low likelihood of occurring again.”

Lahey further pointed to an incident over the summer in Des Moines in which Plummer was charged with trespassing when he and some friends jumped a fence to go swimming. Lahey alleged Plummer was intoxicated at time it occurred. Brown described the incident as “basically stupid.”

Judge Nancy Baumgartner said her decision was based on the nature of the crime and the details of the plea agreement.

“It’s not an easy decision for me to make today — you seem like a nice young man … but what you did was a crime of violence,” she said before denying Plummer’s request to defer his sentence.

Plummer was sentenced to serve 60 days in the Johnson County Jail with credit for time served. He will also have to pay a fine of $625 and restitution totaling $816.12 and serve two years of supervised probation.

Brown said “no decision had been made” on whether to appeal the decision after the hearing, but Plummer has 30 days to file an appeal.


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