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Published February 05, 2013, 10:38 AM

North Dakota Man Appears on Assault Charge

A Hatton, N.D., man charged with beating a Florida man unconscious last week in a Grand Forks motel parking lot, then driving over him, appeared in court Monday saying he “shouldn’t even be here.”

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

A Hatton, N.D., man charged with beating a Florida man unconscious last week in a Grand Forks motel parking lot, then driving over him, appeared in court Monday saying he “shouldn’t even be here.”

Tanner Schlaht, 20, faces two Class B felony counts of aggravated assault alleging he broke facial bones of Anthony Michael Sawyer by punching and kicking him, knocked him out then drove over him Thursday in the parking lot of the Budget Inn Express, 3400 Gateway Drive.

Each count carries a sentence of up to five years in prison if he’s convicted.

Sawyer, 32, is from Winter Park, Fla., police said, and had been living in the north side motel since Jan. 19.

In court Monday, a prosecutor said Schlaht’s history of violent crimes includes ones committed in Florida.

He spent time in jail in Grand Forks in 2011 for assault and terrorizing felonies and last summer for misdemeanor assault, according to court records.

Making his first appearance on last week’s charges via TV, from the county jail where he spent the weekend, Schlaht was quick to mount a defense, although it was before he was slated to do so.

“It was very quick and an unbelievable happening,” he told state District Judge Karen Braaten, who quickly warned him that anything he said could be used against him and that Monday’s hearing wasn’t the time to try the case. Schlahter still didn’t have an attorney, she reminded him.

Schlaht persisted, saying he had “been clean and sober,” for some time and that he “didn’t have anything in my system,” at the time Sawyer was beaten. “I shouldn’t even be here,” he said.

Bloody fight

According to the police investigators’ affidavit of probable cause:

They found Sawyer lying, unconscious and bleeding from his face in the motel parking lot about 4:30 p.m. Witnesses and the motel’s security video showed Schlaht and Sawyer drove up in Schlaht’s maroon sedan and entered the room registered to Sawyer about 2:30 p.m.

After about two hours, they got into an altercation in the parking lot, with both pushing and swinging at each other. Sawyer lost his footing and went down and Schlaht “punched him in the body and head.”

Sawyer went limp and Schlaht continued to punch him, and kick him in the body and head, spit on him and continued yelling at him while Sawyer remained motionless.

Schlaht got into his car and drove over Sawyer’s leg and left the parking lot, the affidavit said.

Witnesses called police, who said they found Sawyer unconscious, lying in the parking lot, “bleeding heavily from his facial area.”

Sawyer was taken to Altru Hospital with “multiple fractures to his face, including but not limited to his jaw, his orbital bones (around his eyes) and his nose.”

On Monday, an Altru nursing superviser said Sawyer had been discharged.

Braaten set bond at $7,500 and his preliminary hearing for March 18.

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