BOISE - One of the photos shown in court Wednesday shows blood spattered over a child's drawing on the sidewalk, 'Hi Poppy' still visible in brightly-colored chalk.
That's where 23-year-old Sean Carnell, in a rage fueled by bath salts, choked and punched a woman who had once confronted him about his drug use, calling Carnell and his friends 'tweakers.'
The Aug. 21, 2013 assault that left the woman bloodied and bruised was part of a bizarre string of violent attacks that unfolded in just 90 minutes, prosecutors said at Carnell's sentencing. The assault on the grandmother came before he threw a man in a wheelchair to the ground but after he beat a construction worker with a shovel and used a skateboard to bash in the face of Nampa Fire Capt. Chris Cade as the firefighter rode past him on a bike.
He had no human empathy gene that kicked in here, said Prosecutor Shelley Akamatsu.
She described how Carnell approached the woman's three-year-old granddaughter with a Bible in his hand, and coaxed her to go inside the house before he grabbed the grandmother by the throat, shoving her to the ground and punching her repeatedly.
Just a few minutes earlier, Carnell had beaten self-employed construction worker Mike Rice with his own shovel. The blows broke Rice's collarbone, cheekbone, shoulder, vertebrae and ribs, leaving him unconscious on the ground with cuts to the face so deep they went all the way through his cheek.
I was in the hospital for four days, swollen and in pain, and was not able to work for the next two months, Rice said.
He described his oldest son breaking into tears the first time he saw his father lying in the hospital bed.
Almost a year after the attack, Rice said he is still plagued by back pain, memory loss and anxiety, and asked Judge Richard Greenwood to hand down a stiff sentence.
Please put him away so others don't have to have this unnecessary pain inflicted upon them, he said.
Akamatsu also called for a lengthy prison sentence, and warned evaluations deemed Carnell likely to commit more violent crimes if given the chance.
He has to be contained away from the rest of us until he can be safely managed, she said.
But defense attorney Eric Rolfsen asked the judge not to warehouse the now 24-year-old Carnell, who sat quietly in an orange striped jumpsuit at the defense table throughout the sentencing. And his parents, who adopted Carnell when he was eight months old, both took the stand to argue that they still believed there was something worth saving in their son.
I think he has a lot to offer society that's good, Michael Carnell said. He became emotional as he apologized to the people Carnell had hurt.
I can not tell you how sorry my wife and I are, and I can't tell you how much I love my son, he said.
Michael Carnell described a slow slide into drug use and criminal behavior that began after Carnell's junior year of high school. The defendant had almost half his face ripped off when a pickup truck in which he had been riding rolled, dragging the teenager across asphalt.
During his slow recovery, Carnell gave up on his love of football and his plans for college, eventually dropping out of high school.
By that time, you could tell he had just given up on life, said Diane Carnell, his mother. That part of him just died.
Soon, Carnell began committing petty crimes and getting more and more involved in drugs. The drug use continued after he left his parents' home:He had just bonded out of jail and was carrying a list of substance abuse and mental health resources in his pocket the day of the attacks.
But Carnell's mother pleaded for a sentence that would let her someday see her son emerge from prison.
I'm 59 and my husband is 61, she said. I don't want to die before I get to be with him.
Carnell also apologized to his victims.
I wish I could take back the things that I did, he said. I'm so sorry I hurt you and your families.
Rolfsen asked for a prison sentence with parole eligibility after five years, while Akamatsu asked the judge for a 60-year sentence that would allow Carnell to petition for parole when he is 53.
The judge took a more moderate route, sentencing Carnell to 25 years in prison with 15 years before he will become eligible for parole.
Greenwood said the seemingly random attacks are too serious to warrant a light sentence, but said there is still hope for Carnell.
At some point in his life, he may be capable of becoming a decent citizen, he said.