Charles Williams Van Nest, Jr., the man who repeatedly stabbed a woman in Patagonia last October in front of three children, then hid from authorities for days before being arrested at an unrented property, was sentenced at Santa Cruz County Superior Court to 14 years in prison.
Van Nest, 41, pleaded guilty in June to one count of attempted first-degree murder, a Class 2 felony. Last Friday, Superior Court Judge Deneen Peterson sentenced him to the previously agreed-upon aggravated term for the offense.
“I have considered the aggravated circumstances that the state and the defendant have agreed, stipulating to aggravating factors of the cruel and heinous nature of the offense, that it was committed in the presence of a child, (and) it was a domestic violence offense,” Peterson said.
The charge stems from an incident on Oct. 4, 2019, when Van Nest arrived uninvited to a woman’s home in Patagonia and began to repeatedly stab her with an ice pick in front of three children, ages 8, 9 and 11.
The 11-year-old tried to fight him off, then was finally able to call authorities once Van Nest had fled the scene. The victim, who survived the attack, was airlifted to Banner-University Medical Center in Tucson.
Van Nest evaded authorities until finally being arrested on Oct. 9, 2019 in Patagonia following an anonymous tip to police.
The plea agreement dismissed one count of aggravated assault resulting in serious physical injury and one count of aggravated assault using a deadly weapon or instrument. Still, Peterson stated that she considered the use of a deadly weapon as another aggravating factor for his sentence.
Appearing in court before the judge, the victim delivered a statement describing the emotional and physical scars that Van Nest’s attack left on her and her 11-year-old child.
“Our home, our safety and our trust were shattered. So many things were ripped from us that night, but there’s one thing that was not taken and that was my life – although I have no doubt that is what he intended to do,” the victim said.
She detailed the multiple medical issues and procedures that she has been through since the attack – including full paralysis of half her face – and the emotional distress that her child has suffered after the incident.
“You created fear that will never go away and pain that is unforgettable,” she said. “I may never find it in myself to forgive you, but we will make it through this. We will heal from this and we will move on.”
Defense attorney Natasha Wrae said Van Nest had previously indicated that he’d like to address the court, but when given the chance by the judge, Van Nest rejected the opportunity.
Peterson added that the victim restitution fees currently totaled more than $14,000, but would likely increase over the period of the next 30 days as medical costs continued to add up.
She gave Van Nest credit for 324 days served prior to his sentencing. Upon completion of his prison sentence, he will have to serve one day of community supervision (i.e. parole) for every seven days of his incarceration.