A Hood River man was sentenced to 20 years in a psychiatric institution in Hood River County Circuit Court on Tuesday, officially closing a case that began when a juvenile was attacked with a sword last year.
Matthew Ryan Buckley, 26, Hood River, pled guilty, with exception for insanity, to the charge of assault in the first degree. His two remaining charges — attempt to commit murder and attempted assault — were both dismissed.
“I’d like to say, your honor, that I’m sorry for all people involved in this. I was not in my right mind and I will be getting help,” Buckley said at his Aug. 28 sentencing hearing before Judge Karen Ostrye.
While Buckley was indicted back when the incident occurred in March, 2018, his case was put on hold in January for a psychological evaluation to determine his fitness to proceed with the legal case. A second psychological evaluation was ordered in May and his court-appointed attorney, Conor Sullivan, confirmed in August that he was fit to proceed.
According to witness testimony that Buckley later verified, Buckley had joined a group of juveniles inside a residence and challenged one of them to a “duel to the death,” said Sullivan. The victim reported that “she thought he was joking” and took one of the two samurai swords that Buckley was carrying from him, Sullivan said, and then Buckley struck her in the neck. The second victim in the case, another juvenile girl, called 911.
Officers responded to a 911 call around 5 a.m. on March 31, 2018, to find Buckley setting a samurai sword on the ground and turning himself over to police.
Court records show that the attempted murder and first degree assault charges are related to the juvenile who was struck by the sword, and the attempted assault charge is related to the juvenile who called 9-1-1. Because both victims are juveniles, the News is withholding their names.
The first victim was transported for medical care by a Hood River Fire Department ambulance. District Attorney Carrie Rasmussen, the prosecutor on behalf of the State of Oregon, said that the incident “caused significant injury,” and stated that the victim is still receiving medical treatment for injuries sustained during the incident.
In addition to his 20-year sentence, Ostrye also granted restitution to both victim’s families for medical costs and future counseling costs; but the exact amount was not known at the time of sentencing because the first victim is scheduled for another major surgery within the coming months.
Each of the victims’ mothers gave official statement at Buckley’s sentencing hearing.
“Although this journey has not been easy, it’s been eye-opening in many ways,” said the mother of the first victim, adding that she had been asking herself, “How did this man appear in our lives and why would he try to take her away from me? … I now have a reason: You have a mental illness. I know it is sad, but I hope you do the work … to re-enter society in a positive way.”
She added, “I’m not going to tell you anything about my amazing daughter, but I will tell you that she is stronger and more powerful than you.”
The second victim’s mother commented on her daughter’s bravery and compassion, adding that, the night of the incident, her daughter expressed concern that Buckley’s dog had been kicked during the arrest. “That love is what my daughter shows me and what I try to show her every day … and I hope you find that,” she said.
“I don’t know what happened in your childhood that would impact you so strongly that you would want to take someone’s life. I don’t know,” she said, “… My only hope for you is that you seek peace internally.”
Upon delivering her official sentence, Ostrye encouraged Buckley to try to get better and stay on his treatment plan.
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