ST. GEORGE — A man accused of chasing six juveniles to a residence and firing a bullet in the ground appeared for sentencing last month. The judge rendered a ruling that tempered justice with mercy for the 74-year-old who had no prior criminal history.

2023 file photo for illustrative purposes only of Judge Keith Barnes during hearing held at the 5th Judicial District Courthouse, St. George, Utah, July 25, 2023 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The defendant, 74-year-old Alan Brent Culver-Ashby, of Ivins, pleaded no contest during a sentencing hearing on Dec. 22, 2023, on one count of aggravated assault and one count of felony discharge of a firearm, each a third-degree felony. The remaining five felony aggravated assault charges were dismissed in exchange for the no contest plea.

Ashby was charged following his arrest by officers during a traffic stop in Ivins on April 16, 2023, after two revolvers were located during a search of the van he was driving. This discovery included a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver that officers say they suspect used in a road rage incident reported earlier that same evening.

In that incident, police say, several juveniles at an Ivins residence reported riding in a pickup truck when they were chased by a dark-colored van driven by the defendant. When the juveniles stopped at the residence, Ashby got out of the van, fired a round into the ground at least one time and ordered the minors to get on the ground, the report states.

The youths then took off running, at which point the defendant reportedly chased them around the outside of the residence, until the youths ran into the home and locked the door behind them. The defendant tried the door, left and was stopped by police and arrested shortly thereafter.

Stock photo of Santa Clara-Ivins Police patrol vehicle | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

While speaking to officers, Ashby said he “became upset” when he saw the teenager driving recklessly, so he started following the truck. He admitted to shooting a round into the ground during the confrontation with the youth.

During the sentencing hearing held last month, prosecutor Rick Erickson told the court that several of the juveniles’ parents were present, one of whom was a police officer. He noted the families were in agreement that the state not ask for any additional jail time.

Defense attorney Lamar Winward told the court that his client was in agreement with the findings in the presentence report, except the portion that said the defendant showed no remorse for his actions.

The attorney said his client felt great remorse for shooting a weapon into the ground, adding that Ashby was trying to explain at the time that he lives in a small complex with several family members. So when he saw the commotion outside, he became concerned for his neighbors’ safety.

Stock image of Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County, Utah | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

A family member of the defendant told the court that at the time of the incident, Ashby was in no way looking for trouble, saying his cousin was in state of depression at the time. Once Ashby realized the situation for what it was; “a bunch of teenagers acting like teenagers,” the relative said, the defendant realized he overreacted. 

The defendant also spoke, saying, “I thought there was something much more malevolent going on there. My mistake. I’m extremely apologetic.”

District Judge Keith C. Barnes referred to Ashby’s statement that was incorporated into the presentence report, which stated, “I do not regret standing up to protect my family.”

“But the caveat here is that you have to use reasonable means to be able to protect one’s family,” Barnes said, adding that using a firearm was not reasonable considering the situation.

“You didn’t handle it correctly,” the judge said. 

Ashby was then sentenced to serve 19 days in jail, with credit for the 19 days he had already served. He was placed on three years’ probation, while the prison terms were suspended in the case. The defendant was also ordered to complete a mental health evaluation and pay a $950 fine, as well as adhere to all other terms of his probation.

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