published Friday, April 11th, 2014

Second teen in Marion cyclist assault case gets probation, community service

The youngest of two teens charged in the January assault of cyclist Anders Swanson on Raccoon Mountain was sentenced Thursday in Marion County Juvenile Court to probation and community service.

The teen, 14 at the time of the incident and charged with possession of a horn that made an "unreasonably loud or harsh sound," appeared before Judge Jay Blevins, who ordered him to perform 10 hours of community service during a 60-day probationary period, Assistant District Attorney Julia Veal said after the hearing.

The youth must also pay court costs, Veal said.

Swanson, a 30-year-old Chattanooga native, could not be reached for comment Thursday, but after the 16-year-old's case was heard and his punishment handed down in March, Swanson said he and his family were "disappointed with the sentence" but "appreciate the support of the community here."

In the March hearing, Blevins ordered the 16-year-old in the case to serve 90 days probation, perform 16 hours of community service, submit to a drug test and pay court costs, court officials said after that hearing. He was charged with violation of the three-foot law, having a vehicle with a horn that was not in good working condition, and misdemeanor assault for spraying pepper spray in Swanson's face during the Jan. 11 encounter.

If the boys meets terms of the court orders, their records could be cleared when their cases are reviewed June 12 in an "informal adjustment" ordered by the judge, court officials said. That order is similar to a pretrial diversion in adult court.

According to investigators, the teens admitted they blew an air horn as they drove past Swanson in their truck, then sprayed the man with pepper spray when they returned in another vehicle later the same day.

Swanson told police the teens swerved their truck toward him, forcing him to maneuver to avoid being hit. The teens showed up while Swanson was loading his bike into his vehicle and sprayed him in the mouth and eyes with pepper spray.

Investigators said the teens gave their first account of the incident to Hamilton County authorities, saying they had blown the air horn at Swanson and later sprayed him with the pepper spray. But they told Marion County authorities later that Swanson was the aggressor in the encounter.

Mike Taylor, 12th Judicial District attorney general, reviewed evidence from both counties in advising Marion County authorities to charge the teens.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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