Judge rejects plea deal for ‘amateur boxer’ accused by Rockland police in beating

Posted April 23, 2014, at 12:15 p.m.
Last modified April 23, 2014, at 2:59 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A judge rejected Wednesday afternoon a plea deal that would have reduced the charge against a Rockland man who was arrested Easter morning after being accused of beating another man into unconsciousness.

Ryan J. Hayward, 22, was arrested shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday by Rockland police and charged with aggravated assault.

The victim was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, where he regained consciousness but had no recollection of the assault, according to an affidavit filed by Rockland police Officer Jacob Shirley in Rockland District Court.

Hayward made his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon, at which time the prosecution and defense proposed a resolution of the case. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald and defense attorney for the day William Pagnano proposed that the felony aggravated assault be reduced to a misdemeanor assault through a deferred disposition. If Hayward refrained from criminal conduct for the next 12 months and was evaluated for both substance abuse and anger management, he would serve no additional time in jail than the three days he has already served since his arrest.

Fernald said that Hayward is claiming self defense, saying the victim had made threats. In addition, the victim cannot recall what occurred and acknowledges he may have been the aggressor. All the many people who were outside the Myrtle Street Tavern said they either did not want to get involved by giving statements or claimed they did not see anything, Fernald said.

According to the affidavit, Officers Shirley and Andrew Redden were on routine patrol when they spotted a large group of people waving to them and pointing up Myrtle Street. When officers pulled up to the scene they witnessed Hayward on top of another man and punching him so violently that the victim’s head kept bouncing off the ground, according to the affidavit.

Hayward jumped off the man when officers ordered him to and said he hadn’t done anything wrong and was protecting himself. Hayward was handcuffed and taken to jail. Shirley said Hayward refers to himself as an amateur boxer.

The male victim had teeth knocked out and his face was bloody.

Judge Susan Sparaco said the statement by officers about the violence in the punching of a man who was not fighting back is why she would not accept the plea agreement.

Pagnano urged the judge to accept the plea, saying there were many problems with the police case against Hayward. Fernald said the prosecution agreed that the defendant went beyond self defense when the victim was no longer fighting back but said the agreement was a reasonable compromise.

He said the victim had been at two other bars drinking whiskey before going to the Myrtle Street Tavern.

“I don’t care if the victim was the Grim Reaper. This is a risk I’m not willing to take,” Sparaco said.

After rejecting the plea, the judge set bail at $2,500 cash. Hayward remained in jail Wednesday afternoon.

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