This week's cover story, "Sucker Punch", explores the legal aftermath of an assault on a fan at the 2010 Mayhem Festival -- an incident that left a somewhat fragmentary record behind, thanks to concertgoers' penchant for uploading videos of Mayhem moshes and crowd rowdiness to YouTube. The clips don't capture the actual attack, but they do provide a front-row seat for events leading up to it -- what might be described as the opening act.
As recounted in our feature, James Christensen ended up with a broken nose and other injuries after being jumped by two men. But his assailants face radically different consequences from Arapahoe County's whimsical justice system.
Jeramie Gerhardt, whom Christensen identified as the "instigator" of the assault, pleaded to a reduced charge of felony menacing last month and is expected to serve ninety days in jail and four years on probation. (His sentencing is scheduled for June 14.) But his co-defendant, Eric Swanson, convicted of second-degree assault at trial, is facing up to 64 years in prison as a habitual criminal because of prior felonies -- all of them nonviolent, drug-related cases that occurred ten years ago or more.
Swanson can't be seen in either of the videos below and claims that he got mixed up in the action at its final stage. But two of the friends who went with him to the concert, Gerhardt and Chad Buckner, are on prominent display. In the first clip below, that's Gerhardt making an appearance at about the 1:20 mark, making an obscene gesture at the camera. Twenty seconds later, that's Buckner in the plaid shorts shoving another patron and stripping off his shirt. Over the next minute or so, Buckner charges in on some other guys, downs one in a black shirt, gets pulled off him, then seeks out his sparring partner and embraces him.
Page down to see another video and a still image featuring Christensen and Gerhardt. The second clip shows more of what's happening in the vicinity of Buckner at around the same time. While Buckner's shoving someone off to the left, pause the video eight seconds in -- and you'll see Gerhardt in the background, trapped in a chokehold by a larger man in a white shirt. The black-shirted bald man addressing Gerhardt, at one point shaking a finger at him, has been identified as Christensen.
Here's a still of what appears to be going on eight seconds into the second clip, with Christensen pressing in against his future assailant Gerhardt:
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Twenty-three seconds in, Gerhard is clearly visible face-down on the ground, with Christensen checking on him. The camera then shifts to more Buckner action, but Gerhardt is soon back on his feet -- and helping pull people off Buckner. At the 0:56 mark, Gerhardt is seen shaking hands with another erstwhile combatant -- and in the next few seconds, exchanging words with Christensen. The two square off, then go their separate ways.
Except they don't. The assault on Christensen apparently happened approximately three minutes after the clip ends.