MONTICELLO — A former Monticello police sergeant pleaded guilty Wednesday to breaking into his estranged wife's home and assaulting the man he found there with her.
The incident prompted the sergeant's firing, while criticism over the delayed response to the woman's 911 call led to an ouster of the police chief, demotion of another sergeant, and a review of the emergency dispatcher who took the call.
Jesse Cole Young, 37, agreed to a plea deal, admitting he broke into the woman's home in December "with intent to commit an assault," and once he was inside, carried out an attack that caused "substantial bodily injury" to a man who was at the house, according to court documents.
Young pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of burglary, a third-degree felony, and assault with substantial bodily injury, a class A misdemeanor. The former officer originally faced a charge of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a second case filed in January charging Young with witness tampering, a third-degree felony. Upon successfully completing probation, Young will be eligible to have the burglary conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, according to court documents.
On Dec. 2, Young's estranged wife called 911 to report that her husband had entered her home and assaulted a man inside, and then drove away drunk.
Young used a key to get into the woman's locked home about 11:35 p.m., then confronted a man inside the home and threw him against a wall, according to a probable cause affidavit. Court records indicate the woman filed for divorce from Young on Sept. 2.
Response to the woman's 911 call didn't come until the following morning.
The emergency dispatcher who took the woman's 911 call contacted Monticello Police Chief Kent Adair before dispatching an officer, their recorded conversation raising concerns about how the two reacted to the incident.
On Jan. 13, the Monticello City Council voted to fire Adair, a 30-year veteran with the department. Adair, an officer in the sheriff's office and the dispatcher had been placed on paid leave shortly after Young's arrest.
Joe Harris, a San Juan County sheriff's sergeant, was demoted to the rank of deputy and suspended for 30 days without pay on Jan. 8. Harris is a 10-year veteran of the sheriff's office, including five years as a field supervisor. He waived his right to a hearing or any appeals of the suspension at the time of the demotion.
Young's sentencing is set for May 2. He faces up to five years in prison for the burglary charge and up to a year behind bars for the assault.