Man to serve 20 months for stabbing cousin

A 48-year-old man with a long history of mental illness and substance abuse was sentenced to 20 months in prison Wednesday for stabbing a family member at his Preston home in November 2012.

Philip Beltran had pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, though he disputed the facts of the case and balked at the sentencing.

According to prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla, Beltran stabbed George Dames, a cousin and fellow member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, two times in the upper chest with a knife, claiming he had to attack Dames before Dames attacked him. One of the wounds was dangerously close to the heart and medical staff said it could have been fatal, according to Tytla.

Beltran had been released from prison in May to attend a 90-day program at the La Paloma substance abuse treatment center in Memphis, Tenn. He was re-incarcerated after he left the program early. At the sentencing, Beltran said he left the program and returned to Connecticut because his probation officer told him he had to return for a presentencing interview.

“It’s not as if he left La Paloma for a joyride,” Beltran’s attorney, Herman Woodard, said. “He’s been sober for a year.”

Judge Susan B. Handy, who had arranged for Beltran to be interviewed by phone for the presentencing investigation, credited the tribe with trying to help Beltran with rehabilitation. She told him he was going to prison regardless of what occurred at the rehabilitation center.

“I think we’re getting too mired down regarding what happened in Tennessee,” Handy said. “Never mind the fact that someone got stabbed and received a certain amount of nerve damage.”

Handy imposed a standing criminal restraint order that prohibits Beltran from having contact with Dames for the next 25 years. Beltran will be on probation for three years following his release from prison.

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