Colton Fears, one of the men involved in the shooting that took place after the October 2017 Richard Spencer rally at the University of Florida, was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday.
Last month, the alleged shooter in the case, Tyler Tenbrink, was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. Fears, police and prosecutors said, was an accessory in the case.
Witnesses told police Tenbrink fired a shot into a group of protestors on Southwest Archer Road, while Fears was driving the vehicle with Tenbrink and brother William Fears inside. Fears had originally accepted a plea contingent on him testifying against Tenbrink, but when Tenbrink instead entered a plea of no contest and avoided trial, Fears’ testimony wasn’t needed, and that led to a new trial for him.
A charge in the case against William Fears was dropped last year.
At the start of Monday’s court proceeding, a joint agreement between the defense and state attorney’s office was presented to the court, suggesting a 17-month sentence for Fears. This was based on his role as the driver, and the fact that he never left the vehicle during the incident.
Assistant State Attorney George Wright said after having a lengthy conversation with Fears, he does not consider him to be a danger to society in terms of an underlying white supremacy motive.
“I don’t believe he shares those views or believes in them anymore,” Wright said.
Circuit Judge James Colaw did not see the 17-month proposal as an appropriate sentence. Colaw said that even though Fears was just driving the vehicle, he still played a large role in the incident and the judge believed that five years was a more appropriate sentence.
“You were plenty old enough to know better in what you were doing,” Colaw told Fears. “The choices you made that day — as I told Mr. Tenbrink when he pled — at the end of every choice, lies truth. Your truth today is in your sentence that I’m going to impose.”
Fears said this situation has made him rethink his life, and who he chooses to surround himself with.
“To move forward and repair my name, which has been associated with a lot of stuff that does not truly represent who I am, from this point forward I will be more than aware of the people I let into my circle,” Fears said.
Given that the minimum serving time required by law in this case is three years, Judge Colaw saw five years as an appropriate sentence. Prior to sentencing, Fears apologized to those directly affected by the incident, as well as the City of Gainesville as a whole.