A young Butte man who was 17 when he stabbed another male in the chest last year pleaded guilty to criminal endangerment Thursday, but prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of assault with a weapon.
Ethan Gabriel Hawk, now 18, admitted to District Judge Kurt Krueger that he struck the victim and his car with a knife the night of May 13, 2020. He will be sentenced later and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.
Hawk was initially charged with assault with a weapon, which has a 20-year maximum, and felony criminal mischief, carrying a possible 10 years, but charges were amended in a plea agreement.
Because he was 17 and initially accused of assault with a weapon, prosecutors say they were required to charge him as an adult. Hawk’s defense attorneys tried to get him transferred to Youth Court but Krueger ruled against that request in November, citing the seriousness of the crime.
According to prosecutors, the victim had been exchanging words with Hawk over the social media platform Snapchat for a week before agreeing to meet Hawk at his house to “talk it over.”
The victim said he drove up with his girlfriend, parked across the street and Hawk came over and put his hand on the window, which was rolled down halfway. The victim said when he pushed the hand away, Hawk reached in and stabbed him in the chest.
He said he leaned over and Hawk swung the knife at him a second time but missed. The victim said he left and drove himself to St. James Healthcare. The knife did not penetrate his sternum so he was treated and released.
Police went to Hawk’s house and found a knife with a 4-inch blade on the side of the porch that appeared to have blood on it. Hawk would not answer questions and would not confirm his date of birth, but said he was 17.
Hawk was initially taken to a youth facility in Great Falls, where he posted $25,000 bond. Attorneys in the case were in Krueger’s courtroom for Thursday’s plea hearing but Hawk appeared via computer video from another location.
Krueger asked prosecutors and defense attorneys to submit sentencing recommendations to him before he decides that matter.
In the November ruling, he said Hawk did not meet requirements for being transferred to Youth Court.
“The Defendant’s alleged offenses are serious in nature, which prompts concern as to community protection and impact of any Youth Court proceeding once the defendant reaches the age of majority,” his ruling said. “As such, the Court concludes this matter should remain in district court.”