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Stabbing could be third strike

Harley Paul Finney, 27, of Atascadero was arrested Friday, July 23, 2010, on suspicion of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Original story »
Plea: Not guilty to attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. What's next: Remanded in SLO County jail with no bail.
Harley Paul Finney, 27, of Atascadero was arrested Friday, July 23, 2010, on suspicion of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Original story » Plea: Not guilty to attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. What's next: Remanded in SLO County jail with no bail.

The Atascadero man convicted earlier this month of assault with a deadly weapon in the stabbing of a 19-year-old transient in San Luis Obispo is seeking to avoid a third-strike sentence.

Harley Finney, 28, has two strikes on his record based on convictions on two felony counts stemming from a beating of a man in San Luis Obispo in 1999. At that time, Finney was 16 years old.

A judge may consider strikes in sentencing for certain felonies committed after a defendant turns 16.

But the judge has the discretion not to consider strikes in the defendant’s sentencing if the convictions don’t meet the spirit of the three-strikes law, which takes into account the nature of the offenses.

A third-strike sentence results in a minimum 25 years-to-life prison term.

Finney, who was in court Friday for further proceedings in his case, was convicted Nov. 1 of stabbing Chad Robinson multiple times in downtown San Luis Obispo on July 20.

Finney’s lawyer, Raymond Allen, said he considers the 1999 beating that resulted in convictions of aggravated mayhem and aggravated assault a single strike because he believes they were part of the same offense.

Prosecutor Dave Pomeroy said the convictions constitute two separate strikes and stem from two unique incidents.

In the 1999 incident, Finney was convicted of hitting the man with a skateboard, a blow that resulted in the man’s eye being severely damaged. Finney kicked the same man later that day and received an aggravated assault conviction for that offense.

The time sequence between the 1999 attacks is expected to be a point of dispute at Finney’s sentencing on Jan. 14, when Pomeroy and Allen will likely argue how many strikes Judge John Trice should consider.

If Finney is sentenced to three strikes, he’ll face a maximum of 29 years to life in prison including enhancements that would increase his maximum possible term.

If he is sentenced based on a two-strike decision, he’ll face a maximum of 12 years in prison.

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