May 19-A former University of Colorado lineman was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to assaulting another student in October.
Carson Lee, 20, pleaded guilty Thursday in Boulder District Court to second-degree assault as part of a plea agreement that saw prosecutors dismiss the remaining count of third-degree assault.
As part of the plea deal, Lee will receive a 30-month deferred sentence to be served alongside 30 months of probation. If Lee can complete the terms of his probation and avoid new charges in the 30 months, he will be allowed to withdraw the guilty plea.
Boulder District Judge Thomas Mulvahill accepted the plea deal, and told Lee he had an opportunity to come out of this case with no convictions on his record. But he also warned Lee that if he violated the terms of the deferred judgement, he could be facing prison time.
"If you lose that focus, if you slip even once, then you risk the felony conviction and the felony sentence, and nobody wants that to happen," Mulvahill said.
In addition to the deferred judgement, Mulvahill sentenced Lee to 30 days of jail, which could be converted to work or school release.
Mulvahill rejected a plea deal proposed last week because it would have entailed only three days of work crew, which Mulvahill felt was not a severe enough sanction.
"It's not to protect the community, it is purely a punitive sanction for the injury he caused," Mulvahill said. "I need to consider punishment that is commensurate with the gravity of the offense."
Lee was remanded into custody to begin serving his sentence at the Boulder County Jail.
Prior to that, Lee apologized to the victim in the case, who was watching the hearing virtually.
"It's completely out of character, it was bad judgement on my part," Lee said. "This is something that will never happen again, it never should have happened."
According to an affidavit, the victim - a CU Boulder student - was walking in the University Hill area overnight between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 when he came across a woman who was intoxicated. The student ordered the woman a ride, and then went in the vehicle with her when he said she asked him to help her get home.
They arrived at an address in Boulder where Lee, the woman's boyfriend, was waiting. The student said as he was leaving, Lee suddenly started yelling at him and then shoved him to the ground and repeatedly punched him.
According to the affidavit, the man said Lee punched him about 30 times. Doctors later said the victim suffered a fractured skull and internal brain bleeding.
The victim last week said he was forced to withdraw from school that semester and has had trouble with schoolwork ever since. He still has hearing impairment and headaches, and still has more surgery ahead.
"All (the victim) wanted was to have a normal college life, and the defendant changed that," Boulder Deputy District Attorney Joshuah Lisk said.
In initial reports, Lee and his girlfriend accused the victim of sexually touching her, but Lisk said there was no evidence that happened, including on video surveillance that captured part of the interaction.
Lee's girlfriend spoke at the hearing and clarified that she never asked the victim to get in the car with her and that he put his arm on her shoulder to help her walk, which made her "uncomfortable."
But when Lee's father spoke and said the victim "was no saint" Mulvahill said those comments were "completely disrespectful" and said "there is no basis for that claim."
"To be clear, he was a blameless, innocent victim," Mulvahill said. "He was trying to help an intoxicated young woman get back to a place of safety."
And while Lee's girlfriend denied that they "colluded" to make the accusations against the victim the day after the assault, Mulvahill said, "That's exactly what it looks like."
"Only one of them is coming out of this incident with serious physical injuries," Mulvahill said when several speakers said all three young people were suffering. "You want to talk about everybody has to pay the price? It's clear to me the victim is paying a higher price than the defendant or (his girlfriend)."
But ultimately, Mulvahill said he believes the final plea agreement was a fair one. While he lost his dream of playing for the Buffs, Mulvahill noted that Lee, who has entered the transfer portal after being suspended by the university, will have the opportunity to transfer his probation out of state should he continue his playing career elsewhere.
"I hope you get to go on to play football and go to college," Mulvahill said. "I mean this sincerely Mr. Lee; good luck."