Bray sent to prison

IRON MOUNTAIN – A Norway man who stabbed and injured a law enforcement officer at the Pine Mountain ski jumping competition last year has been sentenced to serve a total of 23 months in prison.

Andrew Bray, 75, will receive credit for 16 months already served in the Dickinson County Jail, so he only has seven months to complete in prison.

Pursuant to a plea deal, Bray was sentenced on one felony count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and one felony count of carrying a concealed weapon.

The charges stem from a Feb. 10, 2013 incident in which Bray stabbed Lt. Derek Dixon of the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department in the upper back with a four-inch blade. Lt. Dixon was treated at the scene and released.

During the sentencing hearing Monday in Dickinson County Circuit Court, both the defense and the prosecution argued for what they felt would be a fair punishment.

Defense attorney Elizabeth LaCosse focused on Bray’s many positive contributions to society and his complete lack of a criminal history.

“27,375 – those are the days that Andrew Bray has been on this earth,” she said. “We’re here to deal with one day out of that life he wishes he could change, but he can’t.”

According to LaCosse, Bray was an engineer with a good employment history back to the 1960s, developed his own business, and served as a coach and mentor. He even counseled fellow inmates while incarcerated, she added.

LaCosse pointed out that Bray suffers from a mental health disease. He had been taking his medications as directed on the day of the stabbing, she said, but the medication had been losing its effectiveness.

“Nobody is suggesting this wasn’t a serious crime,” said LaCosse. “But he let go (of the knife) as soon as he felt resistance.”

LaCosse requested that Bray be sentenced to time already served, which amounted to slightly more than 16 months. She suggested that he could then be placed on a lengthy probation term.

Dickinson County Prosecutor Lisa Richards asked Judge Richard Celello to consider the seriousness of the case and deviate upward from the Michigan Department of Corrections’ sentencing guidelines. The guidelines placed Bray’s minimum sentence in the range of 10 to 23 months.

“Lt. Derek Dixon is a citizen of this county,” said Richards. “To say or imply that a police officer assumes the risk of being killed or injured when he puts on a uniform is offensive to me.”

“It’s also offensive to imply that the size of the injury negates the intent to harm him,” she added.

Richards cited four reasons for Judge Celello to sentence Bray to more than 23 months.

She pointed out that the incident: was a targeted attack on law enforcement, took place at a long-standing public event with children present, caused psychological injury to Lt. Dixon’s wife, and could have been far worse as Bray had originally thought about using a rifle instead of a knife.

Richards concluded that a sentence of 36 months would be appropriate.

Lt. Dixon was then invited to make a statement.

“It’s difficult to stand here as a victim and as a police officer,” he said. “But underneath, I’m still a person, I still have a family.”

Although Lt. Dixon admitted that his physical injury may have been minimal, he said that the psychological effect on him and his family was immense. He noted that he and his family are doing much better now.

“I have no ill will toward Mr. Bray on a personal level,” he said. “I understand it was a uniform and not me that he attacked.”

However, Lt. Dixon felt that Bray in his mentally ill state was definitely a danger to the community.

When given the chance to speak, Bray apologized.

“I’d like to express my regret to Lt. Dixon and his wife,” he said. “With the plan I have in place, it will never happen again.”

Bray stated that his plan is to stay on his medication and continue to seek psychological help.

Judge Celello wanted to consider four groups, including the Dixon family, law enforcement in general, the community at large, and the Bray family, while fashioning his sentence.

He noted Bray’s positive contributions to society, but did not want to minimize the pain that Lt. Dixon and his family experienced.

As a result, Judge Celello decided that a sentence of 23 months in prison would be fair.

That amount is the minimum sentence Bray will have to serve. The parole board will determine whether Bray will be released after that time or will serve up to the maximum term, which is 10 years.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.