State v. Jent

State v. Jent, 2013 MT 93 (April 9, 2013) (5-0) (McKinnon, J.)

Issue: Whether the district court properly ordered Jent to pay $19,867 in restitution for his assault victim’s medical bills from her subsequent suicide attempt?

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Brian Jent and Nancylee Cadorette, husband and wife, have a tumultuous and often violent relationship. In October 2011, they got into a drunken argument, and Jent struck Cadorette in the face, fracturing her right eye socket. The state charged Jent with aggravated assault. Jent pled guilty, and the prosecutor recommended a sentence of eight years to the Dept. of Corrections with six suspended, and various conditions, including restitution. Jent agreed to pay for Cadorette’s medical bills in an amount to be determined before sentencing. On the day Jent pled guilty, Cadorette ingested a bottle of Ambien and two bottles of Crown Royal whiskey. Her medical expenses from this totaled $19,866.69. In the presentence investigation report, the probation officer noted that Cadorette blames herself for Jent’s offense. Cadorette testified at the sentencing hearing that her suicide attempt was “directly related” to Jent’s assault, and that the meeting with the prosecutor and defense counsel two days before her suicide attempt had “drudged up” memories of the assault.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court ordered Jent to pay $44,112.74 in restitution, including $19,866.69 for his wife’s medical expenses arising from her suicide attempt. Jent appeals only the $19,866.69, claiming Cadorette is not a “victim” for restitution purposes and there was no causal connection between his criminal conduct and her suicide attempt. The Supreme Court affirms.