Brainard Pleads Guilty, Receives Deferred Sentence
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Grand Junction Councilman Rick Brainard entered a plea and received his sentencing Friday in a domestic abuse case against him.
He faced third-degree assault and harassment charges stemming from an April 5 incident with his then-girlfriend, Cindy Franzen.
Rick Brainard declined to comment on camera after the hearing, but his mood was somber in the courtroom.
Franzen was also somber as she addressed Judge Henderson; she asked that Brainard's restraining order be lifted but that an order not to harass or intimidate her remain in place. The request was granted.
"I did something I never should have," said Brainard after being prompted by Henderson as to how the whole situation came about.
They were among the few words he uttered during the hearing.
And before anything was decided, it was almost over. Brainard's lawyer, Steve Laiche, requested a nolo contendere (no contest) plea for Brainard. Henderson denied the option, advising Laiche he would only accept a guilty or not guilty plea.
Brainard's attorney then requested the hearing to be rescheduled, citing the need to speak privately with his client. It was a second request that was denied.
"I'm frankly glad the judge didn't allow that. I think if someone's getting the benefit of a deferred judgment, they should stand up and say, 'Yes, I'm pleading guilty," explained Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger.
It wasn't Brainard's first hurdle of the day.
The embattled ex-businessman was met with protesters outside the justice center as he arrived.
"The more time goes by, there's going to be this attrition and people are going to feel like this isn't an issue anymore. This still is a huge issue," said Kara Taylor, a protester and mother of five.
After a brief recess, Brainard returned to the courtroom to plead guilty to third-degree assault. He was given an 18-month deferred sentence that if followed, will wipe out the misdemeanor on his record.
"This is the way we handle virtually all of our misdemeanor domestic violence cases. I think it's consistent with justice. My job is trying to seek justice and protect the community," explained Hautzinger.
He also says getting offenders in domestic violence counseling early is the key to a successful rehabilitation.
That counseling is a part of Brainard's sentence, but the councilor actually began therapy weeks ago on his own.
As part of his plea agreement, Brainard was also given 40 hours of community service, no additional jail time and is required to pay court costs in the range of $100.
Officials say these terms are also consistent with similar cases in which the defendant has no prior record, which is true for Brainard.