Wolfe-Faust brothers fight ends in court

CAMP VERDE -- It is all over except for the sentencing. An evening that began as a birthday party ended in a brawl between two families at a bowling alley last July. It was the Wolfe family of Camp Verde vs. the Faust family of Cottonwood.

Camp Verde Municipal Judge Roger Overholser Monday found Jared Wolfe, 20, guilty of misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct. His older brother, Joseph Wolfe, 28, was found guilty of disorderly conduct.

The verdicts resulted from a bench trial Dec. 17 in the Camp Verde Town Court. The judge had earlier dismissed a disorderly conduct charge against 54-year-old Richard Faust. An assault charge was dismissed against his son, 20-year-old Steven Faust, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

The Wolfe brothers chose to represent themselves in the proceeding. Camp Verde town prosecutor Carrie Kelly represented Richard Faust, sons Steven and Trevor, the casino's security supervisor Dennis Savage and Laurie Carver, the responding Yavapai-Apache police officer.

The testimony was enhanced with a several security videos of the fight. Some images were graphic, but the footage was difficult to follow because of the number of people in the bowling alley, the distance from the camera, light and shadows.

Testimony told the story of how the Faust family, which had came to the bowling alley as part of a birthday party celebration, encountered the Wolfe brothers as the young family members were leaving. An earlier encounter between members of the two families had left ill will between them.

Richard Faust, Cottonwood's Community Service Manager, said he was about to leave the bowling alley with younger members of his family when his sons began telling him about the conflict with the Wolfe brothers, who were now staring in their direction.

Because of the perceived threat to his sons, Richard Faust attempted to calm his own sons and approached the brothers in the other lane, complaining about their bad language and asking "what's the problem?"

"You are the problem," Jared Wolfe told the older Faust, and threatening him. The expletives became louder as Richard Faust turned away.

By this time, Steven and 22-year-old Trevor Faust had followed their father and were within feet of the others when Jared Wolfe shoved Steven Faust in the chest with the heels of both hands and Steven toppled over a table. When he got up, Steven punched Jared Wolfe twice in the face. But Wolfe came back and began pummeling Steven with his fists repeatedly. Prosecutor Carrie Kelly said Steven was hit 11 times by Wolfe even though Steven had blacked out after the second punch.

Richard attempted to pull Jared Wolfe away from his son, but his older brother, Joseph, grabbed Richard in a head lock and threw him over a table, injuring Richard's knee and elbow.

By the time Jared had finished hitting him, Steven had suffered eight or nine fractures to his nose, both cheeks and the orbital socket of one eye.

Richard was jailed with the Wolfe brothers that night while Steven was taken to VVMC and into surgery the following day.

When the Wolfe brothers addressed the court, they gave their own narrative of the events. They disputed claims they had been threatening or intimidating. Jared Wolfe contended there were more people in the circle than just Steven and Richard. He said that he was "out of his comfort zone" and full of adrenaline. He said he felt "under attack" and that he continued to hit Steven Faust "until I felt comfortable."

After both sides presented their cases, the judge took the matter under advisement to review the security tape again.

Overholser, in ruling on the Jared Wolfe charges, said, the evidence is clear that Jared injured Steven. "In fact, the injuries were substantial and brutally inflicted," writes the judge. He goes on to explain that the "threat of physical force is justified only when the apparent danger continues. Despite the fact that Faust was unconscious and on the floor, posing no further danger to the defendant, Jared Wolfe continue to hit him in the face" up to 11 times.

Both Jared and Joseph Wolfe were found guilty of disorderly conduct.

Sentencing is scheduled next Thursday, Dec. 31.

The assault charge is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to four months in jail and a fine of $750 plus surcharges.

The disorderly charges are considered petty offenses without jail time and fines of a maximum of $300.

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