Prineville man Todd Culver was sentenced Thursday morning to 160 months in prison for multiple sex abuse and assault crimes.
Following a trial in mid-February, Culver was found guilty of 18 criminal offenses, ranging from attempted rape and unlawful sexual penetration to unlawful use of a weapon, strangulation, menacing coercion and assault.
The incident resulting in the prison sentence occurred during an afternoon on New Year's Day 2016. Authorities reported that during an argument about an incident that occurred over New Year's Eve, Culver threw his wife, Stacy, to the floor and struck her numerous times and then choked her. The assault continued for approximately two hours as Culver attempted to rape his wife and assaulted her sexually and physically. Culver also threatened her with a shotgun and told her to call the police and when they arrive, he would shoot them as well.
Out of concern that Culver had numerous weapons near the windows of his residence and was prepared to engage law enforcement when they arrived, county law enforcement requested the assistance of the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT). Oregon State Police Tactical Unit also responded to assist. When they were finally able to get Culver to exit his residence, he was not cooperative with law enforcement and would not follow their commands. When the tactical team attempted to take him into custody, Culver resisted arrest and was eventually tazed.
His wife sustained serious injuries during the incident and was taken to St. Charles Hospital in Prineville for treatment.
Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins requested that presiding Judge Gary Williams sentence Culver to 178 months in prison and that the counts of first-degree unlawful penetration, first-degree attempted rape, and unlawful use of a weapon be sentenced consecutively. She argued that with each offense, Culver showed the purpose to commit a new crime and that they were not all acts associated with single offense.
"There wasn't anything he wasn't willing to do to hurt Ms. Culver on that day," she said.
Culver's defense attorney, Jennifer Kimble, disagreed stating that the events that resulted in the three counts all occurred within a period of time less than two hours.
"This is one act without him getting up, walking around the house or anything like that," Kimble said.
The defense attorney went on to cite a recent court case, State v. Nelson, in which a defendant stood accused of three separate sex abuse counts. The defendant in that case had punched his girlfriend in the mouth, then later dragged her into her home and then sexually assaulted her.
"The court in that case went through which acts occurred where, and how – whether or not there was any sort of break in what was happening.
Williams recessed the case briefly to review the case and Vitolins likewise reviewed the case. When the hearing resumed, Vitolins argued that the State v. Nelson case did not apply because the three counts that the court had merged for sentencing were all sex abuse offenses related to the same act. She argued that Culver's offenses, by contrast, were separate offenses.
Williams chose to recess the sentence hearing again for about an hour to review the case further before imposing a sentence. When court reconvened, he chose to sentence Culver to 100 months in prison for first-degree unlawful penetration, the mandatory minimum penalty for that crime as required by Measure 11.
He imposed a sentence of 28 months in prison for first-degree attempted rape, but chose to make that sentence concurrent to the first prison sentence.
"It seems to me that those are so closely tied in time and action that I cannot make the finding required (for a consecutive sentence)," he said.
However, Williams did decide to impose a consecutive sentence of 60 months for unlawful use of a weapon, stating that the offense "was separated by time, conduct and circumstance from the attempted rape ... and unlawful sexual penetration."
All other offenses, which were misdemeanors, received sentences of no more than 180 days in the Crook County Jail, all concurrent, with credit for time served. According to Kimble, Culver had served 14 months in jail prior to his sentencing.
During the hearing, both Culver and his wife gave a statement.
Todd Culver characterized his marriage to Stacy as one of continual dishonesty and infidelity. He spoke tearfully of how his mother became sick with cancer and how he cared for up to the time of her death. Culver went to point out his years as an upstanding citizen, having served as a reserve officer with the Prineville Police Department and as a local business owner.
"Here we are, way past the crossroads of my life," he said. "To Stacy, her family and friends, I apologize for any suffering that I have caused any of you. I hope all of you find your way to forgiveness."
Stacy Culver recalled numerous incidents of physical and emotional abuse that occurred throughout the duration of their marriage, and stated that "every day he is incarcerated is one day of my life I get where I don't have to worry about where he is and if he is going to fulfill his promise to kill me."