Welliver avoids felony

By Thomas Clouse Staff writer

A jury delivered a hard-fought split decision for the Hillyard Hammer Thursday, finding him not guilty of a felony but convicting him of misdemeanor assault against an apartment manager who suffered a broken face.

Because he avoided a felony conviction, 24-year-old Chauncy K. Welliver will be able to resume his career as a heavyweight boxer from Spokane’s north side.

“I’ve been in the ring with Mike Tyson,” Welliver said. “But it was a bit more intense waiting for the verdict.”

Welliver faces anywhere from no jail time to up to a year of incarceration after he was convicted of fourth-degree assault. He could have received, with sentencing enhancements, up to a maximum of 10 years in prison had he been convicted of second-degree assault in connection with the beating he handed a man on April 29, 2006, outside a downtown tavern.

Defense attorney Rob Cossey said he was elated with the jury’s verdict.

“He would have had to given up his boxing career,” Cossey said. “That would have been the shot of death.”

Welliver testified Wednesday that he was severely drunk when he was approached on April 29, 2006, by a property manager of apartments at 221 W. Riverside, located across the street from the Spread Tavern, now called the Zombie Room.

Ujenio Elizondo was upset after several of his tenants complained about the noise Welliver and his drunken friends were making as the bar closed.

Welliver testified that Elizondo kept saying that it was “his block” and threatened to beat up the much larger Welliver. Welliver said Elizondo grabbed him by the arm and started poking him in the chest while yelling profanities.

Because of those actions, Welliver said he delivered one punch to Elizondo’s face. When the man went down, his cowboy hat fell onto the sidewalk. Welliver said he picked up the hat and told Elizondo, “Your block? There’s a new sheriff in town” and threw the hat into the air.

However, Welliver said he blacked out from too much drinking and didn’t remember striking Elizondo several more times in the face.

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Deborah King then asked Welliver if he heard several witnesses, including his own friends, testify that he did in fact hit Elizondo more times in the face.

“I’m sure I did,” Welliver said, “from what my friends told me.”

Elizondo suffered a broken eye socket, nose and eardrum, which has caused hearing loss. Elizondo testified earlier this week that he passed out after the last series of blows and woke up much later on the sidewalk after everybody else had fled.

But Cossey told the jury Thursday that most of those injuries could have come from someone other than Welliver during the drunken street brawl.

“It was not a good thing, all these adults acting like fifth-graders or sixth-graders, children fighting in the street,” he said.

Cossey then said the witnesses he called to defend Welliver either lied or didn’t testify about everything that happened during the brawl.

“There’s a missing person in this courtroom,” Cossey said. “Somebody, one of (Welliver’s) friends, ran up and kicked that man in the head twice.”

However, King said all of the injuries shown in the photographs are from blows to the front or side of Elizondo’s face.

“The kick came to the back of the head. That’s not consistent with the injuries he suffered,” she said.

And she disputed Welliver’s testimony about blacking out from too much alcohol.

“This was a deliberate, brutal beating of Mr. Elizondo,” King said. “Mr. Welliver fully intended the actions he engaged in that night, whether he can remember them or not.”

After the verdict, Welliver – who carries a professional record of 32-3-5 – said he didn’t know what to expect from the jury.

“I’ve never been to court before,” said Welliver, who has no previous criminal record. “I was nervous even though I didn’t do what was charged. I just got done with my biggest fight. Now I need to get my team going for boxing.”