The victim of an attack at a Billings motel told police he was delivering loaves of bread to the men who attacked him.
The men denied initiating the attack, saying the alleged victim appeared at their motel room with a painted face, screamed and brandished a hatchet.
The conflicting accounts of the incident Monday evening at a downtown motel emerged in charging documents filed Tuesday as the alleged assailants made their first appearance in court.
Joseph Raymond Dickerson, 22; Cory Ray Halbert, 39; and Joel Anthony Camarillo, 20, appeared in Justice Court by video from the county jail. Judge Pro Tem Brandon Hartford set bond and ordered all three to appear Monday for arraignment in District Court.
A prosecutor said Dickerson is accused of being the primary aggressor in the assault that left Levi Wolfe, 22, with head wounds caused by several blows from the blunt end of a hatchet.
Dickerson is charged with aggravated assault. His bond was set at $40,000.
Halbert is accused of starting the attack by punching Wolfe when Wolfe knocked on his motel room door, the prosecutor said. Hartford set his bond at $40,000 based on his prior criminal record, which includes felony robbery and theft convictions in Arizona.
Bond was set for Camarillo at $10,000 after a defense attorney said the young man has no felony record and he is the son of a corrections officer at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility. The attorney also argued that witness accounts cast some doubt on Camarillo’s involvement in the attack.
Halbert and Camarillo are charged with aggravated assault by accountability.
Here’s how court records describe the incident:
On Monday evening, two police officers were sent to the Vegas Motel at 3314 First Ave. N. to investigate a report of an assault. Witnesses told the officers that the victim had crawled down an alley and was lying in a car lot to the west of the motel. The officers found Wolfe on the pavement, bleeding from a gash on his head.
Wolfe told an officer that “all he was trying to do was bring them bread,” court records state.
Back at the motel, officers said they found several loaves of bread scattered on the ground and a large pool of blood outside Room 22. A hatchet was found near Room 23.
Wolfe later told an officer that he was trying to bring the bread to Halbert, and was told that he was in either Room 21 or 23. Wolfe, whose condition was not available Tuesday, said Halbert opened one of the doors and grabbed him by the throat.
Wolfe said he felt several people hitting him while he was on the ground and crawled away. Wolfe could not say who hit him with the hatchet.
Witnesses said they saw three men attack Wolfe. One witness said the assailants came out of rooms 23, 21 and 10. She said Dickerson raised a hatchet above his head and then she saw “blood everywhere.”
The same witness said Halbert told her that Wolfe deserved to die because he stole $60 from him.
A second witness said he saw all three men hit Wolfe and continue to assault him when he went to the ground. The witness said Dickerson hit Wolfe twice with the blunt end of the hatchet before dropping it.
Dickerson and Halbert were found in Room 23 and were arrested.
According to court records, Halbert told officers Wolfe had come to his door at Room 21, but he pushed him away and returned inside. He then heard a disturbance and, when he checked, he saw Wolfe with a hatchet.
Halbert did not provide further details, court records state, and he explained the blood on his hands by saying he had punched a wall. Police say he also told an officer that Wolfe’s girlfriend had stolen money from him.
Halbert’s fiancée gave a similar account and said she saw a hatchet in Wolfe’s hand during the incident.
Dickerson gave a statement, telling officers that he was in his room with Halbert and Camarillo when someone knocked on the door. Dickerson said the man at the door had a painted face and became aggressive, screamed and pulled out a hatchet.
Dickerson said he took the hatchet from the man and hit him in the head twice because he was afraid for his life.
Camarillo was found passed out on a couch in Room 19. Officers said he had blood on his shirt sleeve and fresh scrapes on his knuckles, but because of his intoxication, they were unable to take a statement.