By Shereen Siewert
One of two men accused of viciously beating a 52-year-old military veteran outside a Wausau-area tavern will avoid prison – and a felony conviction – if he if he complies with an agreement approved last month by Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg Strasser.
The alleged victim, a U.S. Navy veteran who lives in Schofield and suffers from PTSD, said he was beginning to walk home from Hoehn’s Huddle, 840 Grand Ave., and was in the parking lot when he was attacked by two men. The victim’s girlfriend told Wausau Pilot & Review that had it not been for the quick thinking of the bar owner who pulled one of the men off the victim and called 911, she feared her boyfriend could have died in the attack.
Everest Metro Police Captain Clay Schulz described the beating as “brutal” and “hard to watch.” The video recording allegedly showed one of the suspects kicking the victim repeatedly in the face and the other holding the victim in place while he was being beaten.
The two men were arrested at the scene.
Trey E. Houghtaling, 34, of Merrill, initially faced charges filed June 1 of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, substantial battery and disorderly conduct. His alleged accomplice, 39-year-old Kevin P. Weston, of West Bend, faces charges of substantial battery and disorderly conduct.
During a hearing in December, Houghtaling pleaded no contest to substantial battery and disorderly conduct, and prosecutors moved to dismiss the most serious of the charges, first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Under the terms of a plea agreement, Judge Strasser agreed to withhold entry of guilt on the battery charge for one year. If Houghtaling complies with all terms and conditions of the agreement and obtains no new criminal charges within that time frame, prosecutors agreed to amend the felony battery charge to a misdemeanor.
On the disorderly conduct charge, Judge Strasser ordered a withheld sentence that includes a year of probation. Houghtaling is required to maintain absolute sobriety from alcohol and avoid bars, taverns, liquor stores and beer tents.
A restitution amount has not yet been set.
Weston’s case continues. A pretrial hearing is set for Feb. 14.