Brainard sentenced; judge rejects ‘no-contest’ plea
Grand Junction City Councilor Rick Brainard on Friday pleaded guilty after a thwarted bid to end his domestic-violence case with something less than a guilty plea.
Brainard, 51, had initially sought to plead no-contest as part of an agreement with the District Attorney’s Office in which he would have been placed on a deferred judgment and sentence for 18 months, aside from a suspended jail sentence. Brainard sought permission to travel out-of-state.
County Court Judge Craig Henderson, however, brought Brainard’s hearing Friday to a halt when he heard the terms outlined by Deputy District Attorney Alexa Williams.
“I will not accept a nolo contendere plea,” the judge said. “It’s guilty or not guilty.”
With that, Brainard attorney Stephen Laiche called for a roughly 10-minute break, conferred with his client, who then returned to the courtroom. Brainard, who declined to address the judge when afforded a chance to speak, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor third-degree assault. A misdemeanor harassment charge was dismissed.
Brainard was sentenced by Henderson to serve an 18 month deferred judgment and sentence. He must undergo a domestic-violence evaluation and comply with any and all terms of treatment. Brainard’s progress over the next 18 months will be monitored through the probation office of the 21st Judicial District.
If Brainard complies with treatment, and stays out of trouble over the next 18 months, he can petition the judge to erase his third-degree assault conviction.
Henderson also ordered Brainard to complete 40 hours of useful public service.
Per a request by Brainard’s victim, Henderson dropped the no-contact provision of a restraining order in the case. Henderson reminded Brainard that other provisions, including prohibitions against harrasment and retatiation against the victim, remain in effect. Henderson — holding a police officer’s evidence photo showing the battered and bruised face of Brainard’s victim — warned against skirting the deal or retaliating.
The victim, in speaking to judge, said she and her children are not afraid of Brainard.
“At some point, I do deserve an apology and I would like for my children to have an apology,” she told the judge.
“This is jailable,” Henderson said, holding the woman’s photo and speaking to Brainard. “It enrages me. I will do that (impose jail) to you. That’s your warning.”
Brainard faces a maximum possible two years in the Mesa County Jail if found in violation of the deferred judgment and sentence.
Sworn into office May 6 amid threats of a future recall election, Brainard was arrested April 6 at his Redlands home on suspicion of misdemeanor third-degree assault and harassment. The Sentinel on April 9 reported the contents of a non-redacted arrest affidavit, which stated Brainard initially denied an altercation with his live-in girlfriend turned physical.
When confronted by an officer with details about the incident, Brainard admitted he’d grabbed her, pushed on her chest, pulled her hair and slapped her on the left side of her neck and cheek area, according to the affidavit. Brainard told the officer he slapped the woman because she needed to “shut her mouth,” the affidavit said.
Read the full story in Saturday’s Daily Sentinel.