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SALT LAKE CITY — Three people charged in connection with the beating of a man and his partner were sentenced to prison Monday.
The three had once testified against DJ Bell after he was charged with kidnapping two young children during a South Salt Lake party in 2008. But after a jury acquitted Bell of those charges, the witnesses became defendants when prosecutors filed criminal charges against them.
I look in the mirror every day and I see the scars from what they left behind. I'll see those for the rest of my life.
Ricky Ian Peace, 34, Leti David Mageo, 33, and Letitaia Tavita Nuusila, 27, previously pleaded to reduced charges of aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and rioting, all third-degree felonies. They were each sentenced Monday to zero to five years for each count, but the judge ordered the sentences to be served concurrently.
- July 10, 2008 -- Mother rescues children from suspected kidnapper
- Aug. 21, 2008 -- Kidnapping suspect will face trial
- Sept. 25, 2009 -- Bell found not guilty on all counts
- March 2, 2010 -- 7 people charged in beating of South Salt Lake men
- May 4, 2010 -- Attorney wants case against assault suspects dropped
- Aug. 17, 2010 -- DA defends decision to charge 7 in controversial case
- Sept. 24, 2010 -- Defense attorney in Fourth of July assault case wants charges dropped
- Oct. 14, 2010 -- Judge: Defendants in beating case not immune from prosecution
- March 21, 2011 -- 5 plead guilty in beating of DJ Bell and his partner
They were also ordered to pay restitution to Bell and Dan Fair.
"Everything that was laid down today, every sentence that was laid down, was deserved," said Bell.
A judge was contemplating the sentence for a fourth defendant Monday morning.
The pleas stem from a July 4, 2008, incident in which several people broke through the door of David James "DJ" Bell's Salt Lake home and brutally assaulted him and Fair after a late-night party. The neighbors believed Bell had kidnapped the 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old nephew of Tapululululu Latu, 31. Bell was initially charged with kidnapping and burglary after the allegations but was later acquitted by a jury in the high-profile case in September 2009.
Prosecutors say the men and four women broke into Bell's home and threw a TV onto Fair's head, smashing his right eye socket. Bell sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, cuts on his feet and neck and permanent partial hearing loss in one ear because of the beating. Prosecutor Susanne Gustin said the attackers were shouting gay slurs during the attack.
"I look in the mirror every day and I see the scars from what they left behind," said Fair. "I'll see those for the rest of my life."
"I regret taking the law into my own hands, but the reason I did it, I don't regret that," Mageo said.
Two women charged in the assault pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges. Charges against another woman were dismissed and one woman plans to take her case to a jury.
I regret taking the law into my own hands, but the reason I did it, I don't regret that.
Latu took an Alford plea on a reduced charge of attempted riot, a class A misdemeanor. The Alford plea allows her to assert her innocence while admitting the prosecution could likely prove the charge. She will be sentenced as if she pleaded guilty. A judge was contemplating her sentence late Monday morning.
Angelina Janae Dibella, 32, was originally charged with riot, a third-degree felony and assault, a class A misdemeanor. But those charges were later dismissed. Prosecutors said there were several witnesses who didn't see Dibella at the scene of the beating but instead at the house where the group was partying.
Lisa Rita Aiono, the 27 year-old mother of the 4-year boy she accused Bell of kidnapping, maintains her innocence and will stand trial for riot, a third-degree felony, in June.
Marsha Ray Finau, 31, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of riot, a class B misdemeanor. She was initially charged with third-degree felony riot. Her defense attorney said she was present but didn't participate in the assault.
More details will be posted as they become available.