Before handing former Marine private Kai Blood a 12-year sentence Tuesday, District Court Judge Todd Plewe said Blood was one of the more violent people he’d had in his court.
Blood, 27, was sentenced Tuesday for an attempted burglary as an act of domestic violence in Dolores on Oct. 15, 2015.
“You’re a dishonest person who will say anything to get out of trouble,” Plewe told Blood. “I need to lock you up for as long as I can so you don’t kill or hurt anyone.”
Blood initially was arrested March 15, 2015, after an early-morning stabbing in the 600 block of N. Beech St. in Cortez. He pleaded guilty to aggravated felony menacing after leaving a man with knife wounds to the face and neck, according to a police report, and sentenced to 90 days in jail with credit for time served.
During the stabbing case, Blood claimed he had served two Marine Corps combat missions to Afghanistan, but after The Journal reported in December that Blood had never deployed overseas, Blood’s false claim exposed him to a habitual-offender charge and increased his possible sentence in the burglary case.
In a statement to the court Tuesday, Blood apologized for being dishonest about his military service. He said he was expecting a child in a few months and did not wish to be absent in the child’s life.
“For the past seven months, I have been building a family,” Blood said. “If I go to prison, my kids will grow up without a father.”
Plewe didn’t mince words in his response. He characterized Blood as a violent and dishonest man before giving him the maximum sentence of 12 years in prison. He dismissed Blood’s concerns about not being part of his children’s lives.
“I’ve heard your pitiful plea for your kids,” Plewe said. “Frankly, that would be the best thing. Good fathers don’t assault.”
Plewe also scolded Blood for his “despicable and reprehensible lie” about his combat service. In a previous hearing, Plewe had thanked Blood for his fictitious service, the judge said. Plewe said Blood’s dishonesty was an affront to all in military service.
As District Attorney Will Furse made statements on the case, the handcuffed Blood fidgeted, furrowed his brow and frowned as he sat in a chair nearby. Plewe was concerned with Blood’s demeanor during Furse’s statements, saying he wasn’t sure the district attorney was safe. As Plewe issued Blood’s sentence, he instructed the man to stay seated.
Tuesday, Furse presented a June 2008 letter to the court from Neal F. Pugliese, Blood’s commanding officer at the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton, in California. In the letter, Pugliese recommended that Blood, a reservist, be discharged in “other than honorable conditions” because of drug abuse. The letter alleges that Blood used cocaine while on boot camp leave, for which he was fined and restricted for 60 days on Feb. 28, 2008. Blood also purchased a case of alcohol during that 60-day restriction period and distributed cans of beer to others, including minors, according to the letter.
In the letter, Pugliese said Blood did not have qualities needed to serve honorably in the Marines.
“Pvt. Blood is exactly the kind of Marine who, if retained, will continue to be a burden on his unit and the Marine Corps as a whole,” Pugliese wrote in the letter.
Before Plewe issued the sentence, Blood’s attorney, Katie Whitney, asked the court to consider circumstances surrounding her client. She said Blood had a “difficult go at life,” and had been institutionalized in various ways since he was 14 years old. She said Blood was disappointed in the way things had ended for him in the military.
Whitney added that Blood felt he had never adequately addressed his mental health issues, but he had been treated at Southwest Memorial Hospital for anxiety and depression issues several times before the March 15 incident. Blood had been acting more aggressively toward people he loved, so he was seeking treatment, Whitney said.
Furse countered by saying that although Blood might suffer from mental health issues, he is a violent criminal. He implored Plewe to hand Blood the maximum, 12-year sentence.
Blood’s sentence is 12 years in prison, including credit for 162 days already spent in incarceration, with three years parole. Blood’s charge on another case involving witness tampering was dropped.