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Sauls receives sentence for role in assault

Daily Inter Lake | March 9, 2021 7:00 AM

Jacob Orion Sauls will spend the next five years under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to a single count of failure to register as a violent offender.

Lincoln County District Judge Matthew Cuffe handed down the sentence on March 1. Sauls, 25, initially came under law enforcement scrutiny after being accused of brutally assaulting a man in Eureka nearly a year ago. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped a felony assault with a weapon charge.

Police officers in Eureka began their investigation into Sauls after responding to a disturbance at an area apartment complex just after midnight, March 30, 2020. According to court documents, Police officer Grigori Neils met with the victim after a neighbor phoned in the commotion.

The badly beaten man was at first hesitant to name his attackers, court documents said. Eventually, he told Neils that he had played drinking games that evening with Kelsey Mocko. Sauls also was present, the man told Neils.

During a walkthrough of the victim’s apartment, Neils found blood splattered on the carpet, furniture and a wall. The victim suffered from a cut lip, swollen eye, a scrape on the back and cuts to his shoulder, nose and forehead. The victim believed his assailant used brass knuckles, court document said.

During his conversation with Neils, the victim took several calls. Both were from Mocko, who urged the victim to keep quiet. Neils recorded one on his body cam, court documents said.

Mocko later received a suspended, six-month sentence on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer. Originally charged with felony tampering with a witness, Mocko struck a plea deal.

Eventually, the victim fingered Sauls for the attack. He told Neils he felt he was the victim of a hate crime as he was a registered sex offender, court documents said.

But Sauls temporarily evaded law enforcement. Investigators believe he fled the area after the attack. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office detectives tracked him back to his mother’s home in the Eureka area, but he had departed.

Sauls was later arrested in Spokane County, Wash., for allegedly stealing a beer. Knowing about an outstanding warrant in Lincoln County, Sauls tried to fool law enforcement in Washington state with a fake name, court documents said.

Prosecutors added the failure to register charge because Sauls, who was on probation for a 2019 robbery, left Lincoln County without checking in with authorities.

Sauls initially pleaded not guilty to the pair of charges. He struck the deal in mid-January.

At the sentencing hearing, Sauls’ attorney sought to have a $1,030 fine waived, but prosecutors pointed out that it would amount to about $17 a month for the duration of his sentence.

Cuffe deemed the sentence “appropriate.”