FINCASTLE — A 21-year-old man will not have to go to prison for stabbing his childhood friend during a fight last summer in Botetourt County.
Judge Anita Filson sentenced Tyler Lanse Tatum-Wheetley on Tuesday in Botetourt County Circuit Court to five years in prison, but all five of those years were suspended.
She also ordered Tatum-Wheetley to be on probation and to pay a $1,500 fine through community service, which will come out to about 200 hours.
Tatum-Wheetley pleaded guilty in November to unlawful wounding in the stabbing of Jacob Hale.
“I’m really sorry for what happened,” Tatum-Wheetley told Hale, who sat in the back of the courtroom with his arms folded.
Tatum-Wheetley said he hopes they can one day move past the event and be on speaking terms again.
“I appreciate that,” Hale said.
Authorities went to a house in the 300 block of Tucker Road in Troutville shortly after 10 p.m. on July 11 and found Hale with a stab wound to his stomach and an injury to his leg, said Commonwealth’s Attorney John Alexander.
The house belonged to Matthew Taylor Green, 20, and Tatum-Wheetley had been living there.
The altercation between the three men began when Green was searching for a gun he suspected someone stole, Alexander said. Green told Hale to leave the house. Tatum-Wheetley followed Hale and recorded a video of him on his cellphone, which Alexander described as him taunting Hale.
Hale returned to the house. Hale took a swing at Tatum-Wheetley, who then stabbed Hale, Alexander said. Hale said he needed about a dozen stitches.
During the fight, Green shot a gun twice. Initially deputies thought Hale had been shot in the leg, but Hale said he doesn’t recall how his leg got injured.
Green is charged with two counts of malicious wounding, use of a firearm to commit a felony and attempted malicious assault. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Monday for a hearing on a pre-trial motion.
Alexander asked that Tatum-Wheetley receive five years and serve two of those years in prison. Tatum Wheetley’s attorney, Stephen Wills, urged leniency for his client, who he said is on a positive path forward, is remorseful and understands how much worse the incident could have been.
Initially, Hale did not plan to testify, but Alexander asked him again later during the sentencing hearing, and Hale changed his mind.
He said he was unable to work for two months, and the injuries have affected his ability to do physical work like he once could.
Hale did not request that Tatum-Wheetley be ordered not to contact him again, but was open to his childhood friend being able to apologize to him again in the future.
Filson didn’t impose a no-contact order.