Judge denies all 43 attempts of Charles City man to throw out verdicts, sentences him to prison for abduction
A Charles City man spent the first hour of his formal sentencing making 43 attempts to convince Judge B. Elliott Bondurant to throw out four guilty convictions rendered against him during a Dec. 2, 2022 jury trial.
It didn’t work.
Instead, Paul Ronald Gwaz, 64, of the 9000 block of Barnetts Road, will spend the next three years and nine months on an abduction charge after proceedings were completed in Charles City Circuit Court Friday morning.
During the December trial, evidence presented that on Apr. 5, 2022, Gwaz was in a home of the relative when the witness left to look for a dog that was let out by the defendant. When the witness returned, they saw the victim was laying on the ground.
The witness testified, saying that Gwaz was beating the defendant, with audio playing from a phone call where the witness was trying to get him off the victim. Gwaz had taken the phones and tried to frame the victim, making it seem like he was the subject of the attack.
The witness continued, saying that they tried to help the victim, but later fell prey to Gwaz’s attack. Meanwhile, the victim was emotional during their testimony, saying that they suffered a setback from an earlier injury and had bruises from the attack.
Gwaz elected to defend himself at his jury trial, but he was stopped several times due to not following rules of counsel. In the end, the jury found him guilty on two counts of abduction and two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery.
Gwaz’s antics continued at his sentencing Friday morning. The defendant filed motions to attempt to throw out his case. His first basis was that he did not receive all of the discovery files on his case. That basis was denied, as paperwork in the court’s file showed he had access to the documents months in advance. Gwaz’s second basis was that he was not healthy enough to present a trial due to not eating during the day long case. That claim was also disputed by Charles City Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Tyler Klink, who called a witness that said Gwaz was provided a meal after the local jail failed to send him some.
The defendant’s next attempt came when he said his due process was violated, but Klink countered that argument detailing steps of the way the issue was address. Gwaz proceeded to his next claim, saying that he wasn’t provided adequate services by the jail to assist with his case due to his disability. But even the judge pointed out that Gwaz had standby council in the form of attorney Ivan Fehrenbach who the defendant did speak with at times during his jury trial.
After all 43 attempts to throw out the case were denied, the formal sentencing phase began. Klink called the witness to the stand, who read the impact victim statement and how the event affected their life. During cross-examination, Gwaz attempted to stigmatize the victim, claiming that they were sick and he was attempting to help them. Those comments drew ire from the judge who warned him several times.
And even after the victim left the stand, Gwaz’s remarks echoed his belief that the victim suffered from dementia and he was the true victim. From there, Klink made his final statement on sentencing.
“It is evident that this defendant has zero remorse for his actions,” the assistant Commonwealth Attorney said. “He continues to make basis claims and believes he was the victim of this crime. A jury convicted him of these offenses and I ask for the court to sentence him appropriately.”
Gwaz’s final statement during sentencing saw him continue to stand his ground.
“This isn’t a crime against the county, this is a crime against mental health,” Gwaz claimed, continuing his belief that the victim could not function without his assistance. “I am sorry that [the victim] attacked me and if I attacked them, I am sorry for my actions as well.”
Bondurant withheld any additional comments, sentencing Gwaz to 10 years in jail with six years, three months suspended (three years, nine months to serve) on the abduction conviction. All 10 years on the second abduction conviction, and 12 months each on both of the misdemeanor assault and battery charges were suspended. He must also pay restitution in the amount of $6,913.17 for injuries caused to the victim and their therapy treatments.