FLORENCE, Wis. - Iron Mountain resident Ian Spencer, 40, was sentenced to serve six years and three months in prison and pay $8,615 in restitution for his involvement in the stabbing death of 41-year-old Jeffrey Youren of Iron Mountain on Sept. 6, 2008 at Saloon No. 2 in Spread Eagle, Wis.
Florence County Circuit Court Judge Leon D. Stenz imposed the maximum sentence for each of the four charges against Spencer, which included 10 years incarceration, five years initial and five years of extended supervision, for the felony charge of homicide by negligent handling of a weapon, nine months incarceration each for two misdemeanor charges of endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, and six months incarceration for a misdemeanor charge of possession of THC (marijuana).
Only the two nine-month sentences will be carried out concurrently, while the others will run consecutively. If Spencer violates any terms of his extended supervision, he may have to serve the extra five years of his sentence.
Defense attorney Hank Schultz, left, addresses Judge Leon D. Stenz as his assistant Vicki Harness, Ian Spencer, and Dan Chiamulera of the Florence County Sheriff’s Department look on.
Theresa Peterson/Daily News Photo
The four charges are the result of a plea agreement that Spencer reached with Florence County District Attorney Douglas Drexler. Spencer originally faced a first-degree reckless homicide charge.
At the request of Spencer's attorney, Hank Schultz of Shawano, Wis., his client will receive credit for 207 days already served in the Florence County Jail since his arrest in September 2008.
Additionally, Spencer will have to pay $8,615 in restitution to the Youren family for funeral expenses. Various court costs and fines will also be charged.
- Six years, three months in prison
- Fatal stabbing at Saloon No. 2
- Sept. 6, 2008
Judge Stenz would not consider probation as punishment because he determined that Spencer posed a threat to public safety and that a sentence of probation would depreciate the gravity of the offense.
"We have heard that Mr. Spencer is quiet and calm, but we've seen how he acts in a stressful situation," he explained. "There is a risk that if he is confronted with a similar incident, he will act in the same way."
After viewing security tape footage of the incident in court, Judge Stenz said that he had a better idea of what happened. He expressed doubts about whether or not Spencer acted in self-defense.
Judge Stenz's interpretation of the tape was that Youren's girlfriend, Tina Bianco, started fighting with Spencer's girlfriend, Kelly Freeman, at Saloon No. 2. Spencer appeared to be an active participant in the altercation when Youren entered the bar and begin to fight him, Judge Stenz noted.
As the video showed, the fight between Spencer and Youren lasted only a matter of seconds before Youren fell down, apparently as the result of the stab wound.
"The defendant's story is not consistent," Judge Stenz said. "He said that he was beaten by several individuals, but I only saw two other individuals who were constantly separating the two (Spencer and Youren)."
Judge Stenz also cited Spencer's alleged lack of remorse, his contradictory statements, and his refusal to disclose the location of the murder weapon as factors in his final sentence.
Youren's friends and family members were also invited to make a statement before the court.
Bianco referred to Youren as compassionate and a gentle giant.
"We were together for four and a half years - it was beyond a girlfriend and boyfriend thing," she said. "My heart is demolished."
Debbie McKinzie, Youren's cousin, let the court know that she was disappointed by the fact that there wasn't a trial.
"This is the time we have as a family to represent Jeff," she said. "Justice isn't being served."
Several members of the Youren family, including McKinzie and Youren's father Duane, implied that Spencer was not the only person they blamed for the stabbing. They specifically mentioned Tina Bianco and Kelly Freeman.
"There should be more people sitting over there with Ian," Duane Youren told Judge Stenz while gesturing over to the defendant's stand.
Although Schultz declined to present anyone to make a statement in favor of his client, he urged Judge Stenz to review several letters of recommendation to Spencer's character.
"We even have a letter from Ian's ex-wife, someone you wouldn't expect to be too happy with him, saying that there wasn't a time when Ian was abusive - he was always calm," Schultz said.
Schultz also cited Spencer's respectful demeanor in court and his lack of a criminal record as positive traits.
Spencer then made a brief statement to Youren's friends and family.
"I'm sorry for what happened," he said.
Judge Stenz said that these traits can be viewed as mitigating factors, but they were not enough to influence his decision.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.