MISSOULA, Montana — A man who pleaded guilty to beating a Missoula convenience store clerk during a robbery has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, despite his victim's request for a more lenient sentence.
Patrick Bendig told Ture-Adon Thibodeaux that he forgave him for the January attack and thanked him for taking responsibility without the benefit of a plea agreement. Thibodeaux, 19, pleaded guilty in March to assault with a weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Bendig told District Judge Karen Townsend he agreed with a five-year Department of Corrections sentence with a recommendation that Thibodeaux participate in the prison's boot camp program.
But Townsend said a prison sentence is necessary as a matter of public safety. She sentenced Thibodeaux to two concurrent 20-year prison terms with 10 suspended. She noted Thibodeaux can still apply to participate in boot camp.
Thibodeaux is one of five men charged in the Jan. 8 robbery at Jay's Mart. Court records say three men entered the store, two hit the clerk in the head with baseball bats and left with the store's cash register. Prosecutors said they used the money to pay rent.
First, however, a "scout" was sent in, grabbed a drink from the cooler and walked to the register. The man — a regular customer — didn't have any money, so Bendig purchased the iced tea for him, court records said.
Townsend ordered Thibodeaux to pay $800 in public defender fees. He and the other defendants will be held responsible for paying $4,420 to Bendig for lost wages not covered by workers' compensation and nearly $2,300 to the store owners.
Andrew Lloyd Badger, 25; Cruz Sebastian Bernardi, 21; and brothers Devon Kainalu Kamaka, 19, and Ikaika Kaleo Kamaka, 20, also are charged in the case.
Bendig said he is still leery after the attack.
"I watch my shadow. I watch the windows," he said.
"I watch my back."
Thibodeaux told Bendig, "I've been praying for you every night."
"Just change your life, man," Bendig responded. "That's all I ask."