Damien Poot-May was sentenced Tuesday to 15 months in jail for stabbing a 34-year old man and ordered to pay more than $20,000 for the victim's medical bills.
Poot-May appeared in District Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to felony menacing in July. He was also ordered to pay more than $20,000 in medical bills for the victim, Normando Munoz-Nunnez.
Poot-May, 21, is also an illegal immigrant who is being held for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE policy is for illegal immigrants accused of crimes to stay in jail until tried and, if convicted, to serve their sentence before being deported.
Public Defender Gail Morrison requested that Poot-May be given a year sentence, because the ICE hold made him ineligible for probation.
Morrison said Poot-May could have argued he stabbed Munoz-Nunnez in self-defense, but he didn't want to risk the 10-year sentence that, if found guilty, came along with the more serious first-degree assault charge he originally faced.
"Even if the fellow was calling you names, it is not justification for you to stab him," District Judge Michael O'Hara said after sentencing Poot-May.
Poot-May and two other witnesses testified that the victim, Munoz-Nunnez, repeatedly sought out Poot-May the night of the stabbing, March 28, and harassed him. Munoz-Nunnez came into the restaurant where Poot-May worked earlier in the evening and then followed him from the bus stop to his residence in Riverside, the witnesses said. Witnesses said the man was angry and highly intoxicated.
Poot-May said once near his home in Riverside, Munoz-Nunnez pushed him and he fell to the ground. The man then started choking Poot-May when a knife fell out of his pocket and Poot-May picked up the knife.
"I just swiped it at him," Poot-May said. "I was just trying to get him to back off because I couldn't breathe."
After stabbing Munoz-Nunnez once in the stomach and once in the shoulder, Poot-May was charged with first-degree assault with intent to cause serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon.