State cuts deal with convicted violent felon

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2008

The state reduced three felony assault charges to a single misdemeanor Wednesday, in an eleventh-hour deal with a twice-convicted violent felon, Philip Dutton, who pleaded guilty.

"It sounds good to me," Dutton said. "A misdemeanor to me is absolutely nothing."

Dutton, 46, originally faced charges for threatening to kill Dale Jones while holding a knife to his throat on April 16 behind the Glory Hole homeless shelter.

Public defender Eric Hedland said Dutton faced nine to 10 years if found guilty of the original charges.

While allegedly holding a 12-inch "combat-style" knife to Jones' throat, police said Dutton held Jones down and said, "I've killed a lot of people, and it would be easy to kill you."

Police said Jones' left hand was cut in the struggle. No motive was given.

Police said they found blood on the "Rambo"-style knife sheathed under Dutton's coat at the time of his arrest. Responding to questions about the blood's origin, Dutton allegedly said, "I don't know. There are a number of possibilities."

Dutton was held on $50,000 cash bail.

"The original charge was far more serious than this one," Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins said.

Dutton has two previous felony assault convictions from 1996 and 2006, according to testimony and court records. The 2006 conviction is under appeal.

Transcripts show Dutton was belligerent in court last spring. He told a judge and two attorneys to "go to hell" during his April arraignment, when he also responded to an offer of a public defender with profanity.

Dutton said he pleaded guilty Wednesday to the single charge, which he considered "verbal assault," to get the deal.

Dutton faces a maximum sentence of 3½ years - one year for the recent offense and 2½ years remaining on a five-year prison hitch ordered after Dutton was convicted in a third-degree assault case from 2006.

Dutton, a self-described military veteran and martial arts enthusiast, used a knife in the 2006 assault. His admission of guilt Wednesday constitutes a violation of his parole, Collins said.

Sentencing is scheduled for today.

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