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- Pedestrian killed during traffic collision on I-55 (10/23/16)9
- Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter faces challenge from criminal investigator Wes Drury (10/21/16)9
- 18-year-old killed in one-car crash Thursday morning (10/21/16)1
- One issue reveals Clinton's character (10/25/16)17
- Man arrested after dispute at school spurs brief lockdown (10/21/16)6
- One victim IDs his attacker in shooting that killed woman (10/25/16)1
- 'I feel for them' (10/20/16)1
- Hundreds turn out for VintageNOW fundraiser (10/23/16)3
- R.P. Lumber chain buys Southeast Missouri Builders Supply in Cape (10/25/16)7
Cape Girardeau man gets probation in 2011 attack
Police detectives told Emannuel Ware his injuries were so severe they thought they were responding to a murder. But Ware said watching his attackers navigate the murky waters of the criminal courts has been almost as painful.
Because, although the attack almost killed Ware, each of the three men who admitted they were responsible saw their charges reduced and their prison sentences shortened after prosecutors negotiated plea bargains with all three.
"It adds insult to injury," Ware said. "I don't even know what else to say. Why couldn't their charges all have been upheld? It's like I don't even matter."
On Feb. 19, the men were taken into custody and all three -- Cody Gustin, Prince Blair and Dalton Burns -- faced felonies and multiple-year prison sentences. The three were charged with beating Ware and, in Gustin's case, stabbing him. Ware was hospitalized in serious condition.
Ware said he was simply hanging out with some friends in the early morning hours. His friends were students at Southeast Missouri State University, where Ware is seeking a business degree. His friends were international and they told him on the way to their home that they had been in a fight with some men -- perhaps because they were from another country, Ware said.
When Ware arrived at their home, the three men were waiting. He approached them and was instantly attacked. He was stabbed in his heart and abdomen. His family wasn't sure he'd survive.
After three surgeries and months of rehabilitation, Ware still isn't 100 percent. Going to see the men's sentencing hasn't helped, he said.
Gustin's first-degree assault charge was negotiated down. Gustin had been facing life in prison for the class-A felony, but a judge sentenced him to seven years on the lowered charge.
Blair, a native of New York, originally was charged with second-degree assault, which carries up to 15 years in prison. But Blair is serving a year in the Cape Girardeau County Jail after his felony was plea bargained down to a misdemeanor.
On Monday, Ware saw the third man, Burns of Cape Girardeau, who also was originally charged with second-degree assault, sentenced to nine months in the county lockup. He, too, had his felony plea bargained down to a misdemeanor.
Assistant prosecuting attorney Angel Woodruff, along with the defendant's lawyers, could not be reached for comment.
For Ware, each sentence has been another stab to his heart.
"It feels exactly like that," Ware said. "My hands are tied. I must not mean anything."
Ware still has medical bills totaling close to $200,000. He's not as strong as he was. He's considering a lawsuit.
Ware addressed the court before Burns' sentencing. He started by telling Judge Benjamin Lewis that, because of plea bargains, Ware knew he wasn't going to get what he wanted.
"No man should have the authority to attempt to take the life we are given," Ware said. "I almost died. Two of the guys got a year in the county. Is that justice?"
100 Court St., Jackson, Mo.