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News / Clark County News

Vancouver man gets 7.5 years in beating that left victim with brain injuries

Incident occurred in April 2022 at Orchards apartment complex

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 21, 2023, 4:31pm

A Vancouver man was sentenced Wednesday to 7½ years in prison for his involvement in an April 2022 beating that left a man with a fractured skull and brain injuries at an Orchards apartment complex.

Don Autry, 45, pleaded guilty April 14 to second-degree assault — reduced from first-degree assault — and second-degree malicious mischief. As a part of the plea deal, Autry agreed the judge could give him an exceptionally high sentence.

The victim, Steven Lawrence, told Judge Robert Lewis he suffered nine skull fractures and two brain bleeds from the assault. He detailed the lingering effects of his brain injuries, which he said have impacted every part of his life.

“I’ve already beaten the odds by not dying or not being more severely handicapped,” Lawrence said. “I have to figure out where I go from here and how to deal with every night when I go to sleep it might be that I don’t wake up. Because most people who have the injuries that I have die in their sleep.”

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Toby Krauel asked the judge to sentence Autry to 10 years in prison for the severity of Lawrence’s injuries. Krauel said Autry’s co-defendant, Kirk Krause, who also participated in the beating, was sentenced to eight months in jail. The prosecutor said the co-defendant’s sentence was much lower because he cooperated with the state, and he was a minor participant in Autry’s plan.

Defense attorney Shon Bogar said there is a long history of fights between Autry and Lawrence over a woman they had both been romantically involved with.

Autry apologized to Lawrence and said he’s taken accountability for his actions.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded at about 5:30 a.m. April 2, 2022, to the Prairie View Apartments, 12611 N.E. 99th St. A woman called 911 to report that her former boyfriend, whom she identified as Autry, had hit a man with a metal pole, according to a probable cause affidavit. Autry drove away before deputies arrived.

Deputies spoke with the victim, identified as Lawrence, who was sitting in a Dodge pickup. He suffered about a 4-inch laceration on his head, court records state.

The truck’s windshield appeared to have been struck multiple times on the driver’s side and once on the passenger’s side with a blunt object. The windows on each side were also shattered, the affidavit states.

Lawrence was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, where he received multiple staples in his head. The affidavit states the beating “could have easily taken his life.”

After he was treated for his injuries, Lawrence told deputies he’d called 911 earlier in the morning to report a fight between Autry and the woman. Deputies responded to that call, but the woman refused to answer the door, court records state.

Lawrence said he was waiting outside of the apartment in his truck after calling 911 for the woman. He said he saw Autry at his own truck and another man he didn’t recognize drove up and parked nearby. Then, Autry approached Lawrence and began yelling. Lawrence said he couldn’t tell what Autry was yelling before Autry and the man, later identified by Autry as Krause, struck his windshield with metal pipes multiple times, according to the affidavit.

Once the windows were shattered, Lawrence fell out of the truck to the ground, he said. He tried to block Autry from hitting him, he said, and a deputy noticed swelling to Lawrence’s hand and finger, court records state. Lawrence couldn’t recall how many times he was hit but said that when he tried to get away, Autry hit him in the head. He was eventually able to get inside the woman’s apartment, at which point he believes Autry and Krause left, the affidavit states.