Colton Gene Fears has reached a plea deal with Florida prosecutors on the charges of accessory to attempted murder for his role in a shooting that followed a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer last year.
Fears, 29, was arrested October 19 in Gainesville, Florida, along with his brother, 30-year-old William Fears IV and their travel companion Tyler TenBrink, after witnesses told police TenBrink fired a shot at a group of protesters while the Fears brothers urged him on. The three had come from Texas to hear Spencer speak at the University of Florida campus.
Shortly after the event ended, the men pulled up in a silver Jeep next to a group of people protesting Spencer and began an altercation, according to the Alachua County Sheriffs Office arrest report. “One of the passengers began yelling Hail Hitler and other chants,” the report says, then after one of the protesters hit the back of vehicle with a baton, TenBrink came out with a handgun.
Witnesses said Fears and his brother started yelling, “I’m going to fucking kill you,” “kill them” and “shoot them,” after which TenBrink fired a shot, which police said missed the group of protesters and struck the building behind them. The three men got back in the car, fled the scene and were picked up by police a few hours later.
The arresting officer reported that after being read his Miranda rights, TenBrink admitted to firing the shot.
The three were charged with attempted murder, but charges against William Fears were later dropped. He is currently awaiting trial in Texas related to a domestic violence incident in which he allegedly choked his girlfriend. Since the shooting, Colton Fears has been held on $1 million bond.
In June, Fears filed letters with the Alachua County Circuit Court asking to see evidence and witness statements in his case and asking for a speedy trial. Though the request for a speedy trial in Florida must be made by the attorney of record, Fears said at the time he had not spoken with his lawyer since February.
But Fears and his attorney, Lucas Taylor of Live Oak, Florida, were apparently back on speaking terms this week as Taylor brokered the plea deal with prosecutors. Under the conditions of the guilty plea, Fears waives his right to a trial and agrees to submit to the sentence handed down by the presiding judge, 8th Circuit Court Judge James Colaw.
Fears’ sentencing is scheduled for November 21. His attempted murder charge carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison. As part of the plea deal, Fears agreed to testify in another trial.
TenBrink, still in custody in the Alachua County Jail on $3 million bond, goes to trial for attempted murder November 12.
Photo from Twitter/@OrenSegal