An Atascadero man was sentenced to 23 years in state prison Wednesday for his December conviction of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in the stabbing of a man in Avila Beach.
Michael Darrien Simmons, 44, was sentenced in San Luis Obispo Superior Court for his conviction in the jury trial. He also had a previous strike on his record for a child molestation conviction in the 1990s.
Simmons was convicted of slashing a man with a box cutter Feb. 5, 2010 at Mr. Rick’s bar on Front Street.
The District Attorney’s Office had recommended that Simmons receive a sentence of 27 years in prison.
Simmons’ lawyer, Matthew Guerrero, said after the hearing that his client was disappointed in the jury’s verdict because he felt like he was acting in self-defense.
Guerrero said that Simmons had carried the box cutter in his pocket as a tool and reacted by using it in the midst of the altercation.
The victim, David Stratton, suffered a serious neck wound and was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, where he received stitches. Stratton testified at the trial.
Judge Barry LaBarbera said during the sentencing hearing that prosecutor Eric Dobroth often referred to Simmons’ actions as “bringing a knife to a fistfight.” LaBarbera said that a box cutter could have killed Stratton and considered it more dangerous than a knife.
LaBarbera also said evidence suggested that Simmons had contemplated using the box cutter before he slashed Stratton across the throat.
Based on time already served and the potential for good conduct credit, Simmons might be released from prison in about 19 years.