One of the men charged with a shooting that took place after a white nationalist speaking event in Gainesville last October has accepted a plea deal with state prosecutors.
Colton Fears, 29, pleaded guilty to an accessory to attempted first-degree murder charge during his pre-trial hearing on Monday morning.
Fears’ lawyer, private attorney Lucas Taylor of Live Oak, said the agreement means Fears will waive his right to trial and accept the punishment handed down by 8th Circuit Court Judge James Colaw.
His guilty plea means Fears will face a maximum of 15 years in prison. A lighter sentence was not a part of his deal with prosecutors.
“There is no, you know, indication or promise whether it would be lenient or more harsh one way or another,” Taylor said as he was leaving the courthouse.
Fears was arrested alongside his brother, 30-year-old William Fears, and the alleged shooter, 29-year-old Tyler Tenbrink, on Oct. 19, 2017, after the three had traveled from Texas to see white nationalist Richard Spencer speak at the University of Florida. Following the event, the three were traveling in a silver Jeep when they got into an altercation with a group of protestors sitting at a bus stop on Archer Road.
The men chanted and praised Adolf Hitler in front of the protesters, one of whom hit their Jeep’s window with a baton.
The group drove a short distance away before police say Tenbrink got out and fired once towards the crowd of protestors, with the bullet striking a building behind them. Witnesses say Colton Fears and William Fears were yelling for Tenbrink to shoot the group.
All three were arrested on I-75 around 9 p.m. that night. Tenbrink admitted to firing the shot while in custody and police found two handguns in their vehicle.
Charges were dropped against William Fears for his role in the incident. He was subsequently jailed in Texas earlier this year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, awaiting trial for choking his girlfriend and illegally owning a firearm.
As part of his deal with prosecutors, Colton Fears will testify in another trial and his guilty plea will stand regardless of whether Fears fulfills his part of the agreement.
Tenbrink’s trial for attempted murder is scheduled to begin on Nov. 12.
Fears’ sentencing date is set for Nov. 21.