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Webster sentenced to 30 years for sex assault; Gant receives 8 years for child abuse

A Dickinson man will serve decades with the North Dakota Department of Corrections for the sexual assault of an elderly woman in Dickinson earlier this year.

Nick Jay Webster, 25, was sentenced Tuesday in Southwest District Court in Dickinson to 30 years for one count of Class AA felony gross sexual imposition, 10 years for one count of Class B felony burglary and five years for one count of Class C felony interference with a telephone during an emergency call.

During the March 10 incident, Webster was accused of forcibly entering an 83-year-old woman's Dickinson home and sexually assaulting her, according to the criminal complaint.

Based on information provided to investigators, Judge H. Patrick Weir said Webster indicated that he did not know why he committed the crime, although he said he had been drinking and took Xanax prior to the offense.

All sentences will be served concurrently and Webster will receive credit for time served.

The minimum penalty for a Class AA conviction is 20 years imprisonment and was the sentence recommended by Webster's attorney, Carey Ann Goetz, while the recommendation of the pre-sentencing evaluation was life imprisonment since Webster was found to be at high risk of reoffending.

Weir said he "spent hours preparing for this sentencing," including evaluating statements from the victim that indicate the incident has caused her to be frightened when she hears male voices and resulted in breathing problems from crushed ribs and bruises on her body.

Weir added that the victim's daughter said her mother, in addition to continual embarrassment and humiliation, felt unsafe in her home of 20 years after the attack and had to move.

"This would be reprehensible against any woman," Weir said of the crime. "But it becomes particularly reprehensible against an elderly female in her own home. The victim in this case was nothing but an entirely innocent victim of this horrible crime."

If Webster would be released on probation, he will be required to register as a sex offender.

In other court:

Demetrius Gant, 27, will immediately begin serving eight years with the North Dakota Department of Corrections on one count of Class A felony child abuse or neglect.

Gant was sentenced to 20 years with the North Dakota Department of Corrections with 12 years suspended.

He will receive credit for time served and will have to pay a fine of $1,550. Gant will be on supervised probation for five years upon his release.

The maximum sentence for a Class A felony is 20 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Judge Zane Anderson denied a request that Gant not be required to begin serving his sentence until after the holidays.

According to the criminal complaint, Gant, 27, allegedly shook his then four-month-old daughter on Aug. 21, 2011. The child was unconscious and found by medical professionals to have bleeding in the brain and blood behind the eyes.

Dr. Rafael Ocejo, a Bismarck pediatrician, testified at the sentencing hearing that the victim, now 20 months old, sustained permanent brain injury from swelling and bleeding on the surface of her brain.

Prior to the start of his trial in September, Gant changed his plea to guilty.

When called to the stand Tuesday, Gant said he chose to enter a guilty plea against the advice of his attorney to spare his family more pain.

"I want to try and make this the best and easiest for everyone," Gant said.