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Man Pleads Guilty to July 4 Beating
Andrew Nelson changed his plea in District Court on Nov. 21
One of the three men accused of beating another man with a golf club on the Fourth of July admitted to his role in the attack, which left the victim with a cracked vertebrae.

Andrew Nelson appeared in Flathead County District Court on Nov. 21 to change his plea in this case. In August, Nelson pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which included aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

As part of a plea deal, Nelson told the judge he was guilty of assault with a weapon, and the aggravated assault charge was dismissed.

The ordeal began this summer on July 4, when law enforcement responded to reports of a fight at the Ferndale Market. Witnesses alleged that Nelson, along with Ryan Horn and Gaige Mower, beat another man in the parking lot.

Charging documents allege that the three young men were in a Subaru following the victim, who said the men were tailgating him. He told investigators he pulled into the Ferndale Market parking lot to get away from them and be around more people, and the Subaru followed.

Prosecutors say Nelson, Mower and Horn got out of their car and began beating the man. The attack was caught on security camera and witness video footage. Nelson's charge of assault with a weapon stems from his alleged use of a golf club during the attack, which prosecutors say he used to hit Valencia "until the golf club broke."

The footage also allegedly shows Mower and Horn beating the victim with their fists, as well as choking him.

All of the men involved in the fight left the scene, and a witness called 911 to report the attack.

Officers made contact with the victim at his home and saw he was visibly injured. He was taken by ambulance to Kalispell Regional Medical Center for treatment, where it was determined he had multiple injuries, including a fracture to his C-5 vertebrae.

In court on Nov. 21, Nelson, who has been in jail since his arrest four months ago, said he had indeed had a run-in with a man at the Ferndale Market on July 4, and that the man had acted aggressively toward him before the fight.

Nelson's attorney asked if he had used a golf club to hit the man, even though he knew it could result in personal bodily injury, to which Nelson replied, "Yes, I did."

District Court Judge David Ortley noted that Nelson will be subject to a significant amount of restitution, and that he could face at least six months in jail, with a portion of that already completed.

Ortley also noted that Nelson's sentencing judge is not bound by the plea agreement and could choose to assert his own sentence for the felony. The maximum sentence for this crime is 20 year in prison, and maximum $50,000 fine.

Nelson will be sentenced in January, and remains in custody at the Flathead County Detention Center.
 
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