A man who severely injured another by decking him during Evel Knievel Days in 2015 then trivialized the attack in a Facebook post was sentenced to five years on Thursday.
District Judge Brad Newman first revoked an initial six-year suspended sentence he gave Matthew Scholler, 21, because he violated probation and had paid no restitution to the victim. He owes $17,000.
Then Newman ordered Scholler to five years custody with the Montana Department of Corrections, which will determine placement. He was handcuffed following Thursday’s hearing and taken to jail pending transfer to the DOC.
Prosecutors say Scholler approached Brandon Waananen at the corner of Main and Broadway streets in Butte during EK Days on July 23, 2015. When Waananen said he didn’t want to fight and turned away, Scholler punched him in the temple.
Waananen fell to the ground unconscious and was taken to St. James Healthcare. Within an hour, he was flown to a Great Falls hospital for treatment of bleeding on the brain.
Sometime after the incident, Scholler responded to comments about it on Facebook and also sent a post to Waananen, according to the charging documents.
“I know you didn’t wanna fight but I was drunk and my buddy told me you guys were yelling our way,” it said. “Being drunk is no excuse for what i did. Sorry bro ill let ya crack me next time! Hope your alright!”
Prosecutors charged him with felony aggravated assault, and in a plea deal, Scholler initially received the suspended sentence and was ordered to pay $17,000 to Waananen for medical bills.
But a probation officer said in court Thursday that Scholler had failed to report several times, tested positive for marijuana, and did not complete drug and anger management programs, among other violations.
Newman also said he made “no effort whatsoever to pay restitution.” He had hoped the suspended sentence would allow him to make good on that, but Newman said that and other presumptions “are out the window.”