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Local man receives rider for stabbing attack

Crime Watch

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POCATELLO — After reaching a plea agreement in November, a Pocatello man involved in two separate knife attacks was sentenced to a rider Thursday.

RELATED | What is a rider?

Neicon Nicolas Loveless, 21, was given the rider by 6th District Judge Robert Naftz. A rider program is when a judge sends a person to prison for up to a year to undergo different treatment programs. When the inmate has completed the program, the judge can then decide to send them back to prison or release them on probation.

The rider, which carries an underlying sentence of three to 10 years, is part of a plea agreement that saw a felony aggravated battery charge for a second knife attack dismissed in exchange for Loveless’ guilty plea on the first aggravated battery charge.

A misdemeanor charge for cruelty to an animal, which was incurred when Loveless allegedly kicked a dog prior to his second battery, was also dismissed.

RELATED | Man arrested after stabbing someone in the face, police say

Prior to handing out his sentence, Naftz told Loveless he did not find the defendant to be a viable candidate for probation, saying that a lesser sentence would “depreciate the seriousness of the crime.”

Loveless was arrested on Aug. 8, 2020 after he stabbed a man in the face. According to police reports, Loveless said that he used a four-inch knife in self-defense during an altercation.

After spending 18 days in Bannock County Jail, Loveless was released on his own recognizance in late August. Then, in March, two months prior to his scheduled trial, he was again arrested for stabbing another man during an altercation.

The second victim suffered a six- to eight-inch cut to his midsection, as well as stab wounds to his chest and arm.

Loveless once again claimed he acted in self defense, and that he “went berserk.”

Per a plea agreement reached with the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office, the second offense was dismissed. But during sentencing, prosecuting attorney Erin Tognetti pointed to the second attack, calling into question Loveless’ violent and inappropriate tendencies.

“Both of these were very disturbing incidents,” she said.

Defense attorney Scott Pearson admitted that Loveless does have emotional and behavioral health issues “that have to be addressed.”

But, Pearson continued, being 21 years old and having just spent approximately 10 months — combined between two separate stints — in prison have moved Loveless toward that growth.

Both attorneys agreed that three to 10 years was a suitable prison sentence, though Tognetti added that a rider should be seen as a minimum consideration.

Given the chance to speak for himself, Loveless battled back emotions as he explained that the victim of the crime was like a brother to him.

“I’m sorry, I feel like a piece of s***,” he said. “I’ve hated myself ever since that day.”

Loveless concluded that it is his intention to overcome his past mistakes, pay his debt to society and restitution, then become a contributing member of the community.

Following the statements, Naftz explained to Loveless that the decision to be sent on a rider rather than being sent to prison came down to his age and lack of criminal history.