A Sierra Vista man ordered to serve two years of supervised probation in lieu of a prison sentence for stabbing his brother last April will pay $60 a month less in court fines and fees after the probation department alerted a judge to an incorrect financial order.
Russel Carl Whitney was sentenced to probation Oct. 2, 2020 after pleading guilty to a Class 5 felony of attempting to cause injury to his brother by assault by means of force. He was given a preprinted order signed by Judge Laura Cardinal to pay $106 per month for probation fees and various court fines and fees.
However, Cardinal had substantially reduced some of the fees during the sentencing hearing due Whitney’s disability status and financial condition. The result of the reductions meant Whitney, 23, should have been ordered to pay only $47 per month.
The error was not brought to the court’s attention by the probation department until last month. Cardinal then signed a retroactive order for the lesser monthly amount.
Court records show Whitney admitted stabbing his brother during an April 8, 2020 argument following a day of drinking. A Cochise County Sheriff’s Office incident report noted Whitney “appeared to have blood all over him” as he walked toward the responding deputy.
“The deputy asked Whitney where he was hurt, and Whitney stated that he wasn’t,” the report notes. “Whitney further added that it wasn’t his blood and that his brother was bleeding and had walked into a field.”
After handcuffing Whitney to a chain link fence, the deputy went in search of the brother, who was found with a puncture to his lower left side abdomen area which was bleeding. The victim initially denied needing medical attention but was later transported to Canyon Vista Medical Center for treatment.
Whitney was also treated at the hospital for an injury to his hand. A CCSO detective learned the brothers got into an argument, during which Whitney “grabbed a knife and came at” the brother.
According to court records, the brother told the detective he did not realize he had been stabbed until he saw the blood while running away.
Whitney entered into a plea deal in August under which Cardinal had discretion in imposing probation or a prison term up to 1.5 years. Cardinal ruled Whitney is free to have contact with his brother unless the probation department prohibits the contact, but Whitney cannot consume nor possess alcohol while on probation.
His brother did not pursue restitution.