- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A Livingston man who pleaded guilty to shooting and injuring a woman during a December 2012 confrontation in the parking lot of a Bozeman fast-food restaurant was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in prison.

District Judge Holly Brown called the actions of 23-year-old Nathaniel John Budd calculated, deliberate and outrageous before sentencing him to 40 years in prison for two counts of felony assault with a weapon and 10 years for drug possession.

“This defendant knew what he was doing, and he knew that it was wrong,” Brown said. “He had a choice, a very simple choice to drive away. Instead, he chose to fire three shots at people who were sitting defenseless in their car.”

The victim, Katie Rouane, has said she and her boyfriend were in a sport utility vehicle waiting for traffic to pass so they could pull into a Taco Bell drive-thru when Budd began honking his horn and revving his car’s engine behind them. Both said they signaled for him to go around them.

Rouane has said she got out of the vehicle, swore at Budd and told him to go around them. She said he then pulled up next to them. She made an insulting statement about his vehicle, and he fired three shots into the SUV.

Rouane, her boyfriend, Carter Massie, and Rouane’s grandmother all testified Wednesday and asked the judge to give Budd the maximum sentence.

Budd’s mother, Karen Swicegood, of North Carolina, said her son had faced many hardships, including watching his brother die when he was 6 and being assaulted by his father.

“He took refuge in drugs and alcohol,” Swicegood said in asking for a lenient sentence.

Budd spoke briefly and apologized to his victims.

“I am so, so sorry for what I’ve done,” he said, reading from a prepared statement. “I’m so thankful nobody died.”

Defense attorney Jeffrey Michael of Billings sought a five-year commitment to the Department of Corrections, arguing Budd had accepted responsibility for his actions.

Brown did not suspend any of Budd’s 50-year sentence and said Budd wouldn’t be eligible for parole until he completes chemical dependency and anger management programs. She gave him credit for the 306 days he’s been jailed and ordered him to pay nearly $12,000 in restitution.

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