AUBURN — A 21-year-old Litchfield man was sent to prison for two years Monday for what a judge called a “heinous” random attack on a motorist last year on a downtown Lewiston street.

Zachary Hoyt had argued to have his seven-year prison sentence suspended; prosecutors were seeking to have him serve two years behind bars. Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy agreed with the state.

“You had no beef with him; he had no beef with you. There was no reason to select him. He just happened to be in his car at the time that you and your friends thought it would be a really good idea to hassle someone,” Kennedy said.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis projected on a screen in the courtroom close-up pictures of the victim’s bloodied and bruised face and described the underage drinking party that led up to the group’s decision for the random attack.

Kennedy detailed the long list of injuries suffered by Rick Cote, who was 47 at the time of the attack, including a concussion, broken nose and teeth and surgery for a dislocated shoulder.

She said Cote “wasn’t doing anything wrong. He was just visiting someone and got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Cote spoke in court, saying it was ironic that he came from a family with careers in law enforcement, including his grandfather, father, aunts and uncles.

“My parents once asked me where did I learn to be so trusting of others. My answer was because I felt everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

They believed he was too trusting.

His intrinsic trust was “shaken to its core,” after the attack, he said.

Since then, besides the pain and more than a year of physical therapy, he has endured lasting nightmares where he is unable to control events, yelling for help and searching for his family, trying to keep them safe while knowing he couldn’t keep himself safe, he said.

“Since that night I’ve had to completely start over again,” both physically and psychologically, he said.

The terms of incarceration for the defendants — Hoyt is the last of three men to be charged — “will hopefully give the guilty parties time to figure out what they want to do with their lives, how to better themselves” and “help them to understand and accept” their actions, Cote said.

He said he would have liked to see the defendants actually serve more time in prison.

“Wouldn’t anyone?” he asked.

Hoyt pleaded guilty in April to a charge of aggravated assault, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Two other assault charges were dismissed.

Both sides agreed to a seven-year sentence with at least five years suspended, followed by three years of probation. Each side had a chance Monday to argue how much of the remaining two years Hoyt should have to serve in prison.

On the night of July 21, 2015, Cote had been visiting his ex-wife on Shawmut Street, Matulis said. When he left, he drove down the street but was blocked by a number of people. He asked them to move. They responded with threats.

When he got out of his SUV, Cote was punched until he fell to the ground where he was kicked in the head until he lost consciousness. His wallet was stolen, Matulis said.

Cote wasn’t able to identify any of his attackers, but a witness who lived locally would have testified at trial that Hoyt took part in the beating. Another witness would have testified that she saw Hoyt as part of the group that was kicking Cote while he was on the ground.

Matulis said prosecutors took into account Hoyt’s youth, lack of criminal record and work history in agreeing to limit his prison sentence to two years.

“The idea that someone could come to the decision to beat another human being like this should obviously raise red flags for the court,” Matulis said, describing the threat posed by the group, including Hoyt, to the community.

Heidi Pushard, Hoyt’s attorney, said her client had never before or since been involved in an incident like the one that led to Cote’s injuries and has exercised discipline and shown responsibility by working his way up to manager at a coffee shop franchise.

“He recognizes he was one of the people in the road that was blocking the way” for Cote’s vehicle. “He recognizes how that was probably the catalyst for this incident and the impact that had on these individuals.”

She said Hoyt hadn’t been among those who ran from a home on Shawmut Street and began attacking Cote.

“He is not a threat to the community,” she said.

He would say to the court that he actually, at one point, was trying to get one of the individuals off Mr. Cote and was punched in the face, Pushard said.

Kennedy asked Pushard whether there was evidence shared by prosecutors that indicates Hoyt was not one of the attackers.

“I’m not saying that,” Pushard said. She said that she and Hoyt believed the “facts were sufficient as they were to find him guilty” had the case gone to trial, despite some jail calls among co-defendants indicating Hoyt had tried to intervene on the victim’s behalf at one point during the attack.

Hoyt stood and told the judge: “I’m really sorry about what happened to the victim.”

He received the same sentence as his two co-defendants, Brandon Roy and Patrick Alexander III, both 20, of Shawmut Street.

While on probation, Hoyt will be barred from contact with Cote, Roy and Alexander, with whom he must pay Cote a total of $1,219 for medical and dental costs.

Hoyt won’t be allowed to have alcohol while on probation and can be searched and tested without suspicion.

He also must undergo mental health counseling and abide by a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

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