CEDAR CITY — A Cedar City man was sentenced to prison earlier this week for forcing his way into a residence and assaulting two people last Halloween.
Jason Tyler Wardle, 32, was sentenced Monday to serve one to 15 years in Utah State Prison by 5th District Judge Matthew L. Bell, who also ordered Wardle to serve another one-to-15 year term for violating the terms of his probation in connection with a similar conviction in 2018.
As previously reported in Cedar City News, Wardle was accused of severely beating a man and a woman on Oct. 31, 2020 after allegedly showing up at their residence to buy drugs. After being told they didn’t sell drugs, charging documents state that Wardle punched and choked the woman, hit her with a metal pipe and smashed the man’s head against a concrete wall.
Wardle pleaded guilty in March to a reduced count of burglary, a second-degree felony, and one count of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, which was conducted online via videoconference, Wardle asked the judge to consider giving him another chance, saying that prosecutors were only looking at his bad side.
“I’m sure Mr. Dotson is going to tell the court some of the horrible mistakes I’ve made in my life,” Wardle said, referring to Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson.
“Unfortunately, all he knows are the bad things I’ve done,” Wardle continued. “He doesn’t know that I never pass stranded motorists without stopping to offer help, or that I spend my days off in the mountains or at the lake, teaching my kids to catch and clean fish, or set up camp. I work hard to provide for my family, and I’m a productive member of society who always helps a neighbor in need. I’m not saying this for praise or a pat on the back, I just want the court to know that I’m more than what you see on paper. I’m a friendly and easy person to get along with. Sadly, when I drink alcohol, I become a complete opposite person.”
That statement was corroborated by defense lawyer Jack Burns, who told the judge during the hearing, “Your honor, he is a good person who has a good work ethic and he has a lot of potential.”
However, Burns said that whenever his client uses alcohol or drugs, “It’s like flipping a switch for him.”
“I’m not here to make excuses or to downplay what I’ve done,” Wardle said as he addressed the court. ”I know what I did was horribly wrong. And while asking for another chance seems far-fetched, I don’t think it would be fair to my kids if I didn’t at least try.”
Wardle also addressed his failure to adhere to the conditions of his parole.
“I’ve been on probation before, and I screwed it up,” he said. “But I would just like you to know that I did complete the treatment requirements that were recommended. After that, I should have done more on my own … looking back, now I realize that I should have done that.”
Wardle asked for treatment options.
“If the court would allow me the opportunity to do a treatment program to address the issues I’m battling with, I will be 100% involved in completing everything offered to me. I know I can be a better person and I’m begging for the chance to prove that to everyone involved.”
Dotson then addressed the court, pointing out that the current case marked Wardle’s third aggravated assault conviction over the past six years, with the others occurring in 2015 and in 2018.
In the 2018 case, Wardle was convicted of child abuse, a second-degree felony, along with aggravated assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, both third-degree felonies.
Dotson noted that in that case, the defendant had beaten his own wife, in addition to injuring his two stepsons, who were ages 11 and 7, in a domestic violence incident.
“The defendant’s 11-year-old (step)son tried to stop his dad from beating his mom,” Dotson said. “The defendant then bit his stepson in the face, placed him in a chokehold and threw him on the ground, causing the child’s head to hit the marble floor. The 7-year-old tried to help his mother after he watched the defendant headbutt and bite his mother. The defendant punched the 7-year-old child in the face causing fear and serious physical injury.”
Eventually the 11-year-old called 911 and the family was able to run outside, Dotson said, adding that prosecutors were troubled by the fact that Wardle was still on probation for that 2018 conviction when he committed the 2020 offenses.
“The state has some serious concerns based on the pattern that we’ve seen in his conviction history,” Dotson said.
“Soon after he was released from P&P (probation and parole) supervision, but still on felony probation, he committed this new offense,” Dotson added. “And with all of the totality of the circumstances, his history and the current case, the state thinks prison is appropriate.”
Judge Bell agreed. “I would say three pretty serious cases in an approximately five-year window support labeling that as a continuing pattern.”
Before he imposed the sentences, Bell said he appreciated Wardle’s willingness to accept responsibility.
“You’ve acknowledged as much here,” the judge told Wardle. “You do indicate that your actions were fueled by alcohol, and you indicate you understand that it was your choice to drink.”
Nevertheless, Bell noted that Wardle had harmed innocent people through his actions.
“This attack was unprovoked, without warning, and it was in the victim’s own home that you entered uninvited,” Bell said. “As Mr. Burns indicated, he acknowledges it, and I think and I hope you do, your behavior’s absolutely unacceptable and dangerous, as he phrased it.”
The court also addressed Wardle’s failure to abide by the terms of his previous probation.
“Probation is a privilege,” Bell said. “You weren’t even off of bench probation when you committed this offense.”
Bell said that he was not persuaded that a year in jail would make the situation better.
Bell then imposed the two sentences of one to 15 years in prison served consecutively, meaning the second sentence won’t start until the first one is completed. Wardle was also sentenced to up to five years on the two aggravated assault convictions (one from 2018 and one from 2020) and received another term of zero to five years for the 2018 count of domestic violence in presence of a child. Those three shorter sentences were ordered to run concurrently with the longer ones.
The judge also waived any and all associated fines and fees during the sentencing. Exactly how long Wardle ends up serving in prison will be up to the Board of Pardons, the court noted.
Following the sentencing, Dotson told Cedar City News, “Our community is safer with Mr. Wardle out of it and serving time in prison.”
Dotson referred to Wardle’s history with the law.
“Wardle has a troubling history of violence and needs to serve substantial time in prison,” Dotson said. “His history earned him the sentence he was given. This office will continue to do all we can to deal with repeat violent offenders in a manner that keeps Iron County safe.”
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