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Attacker gets prison in beating of disabled Sonoma man Austin Ridge

  • Austin Ridge, who was beaten and stabbed in April 2012, rode his special bike in the Fourth of July Parade and Plaza celebration in Sonoma, July 4, 2012. (Crista Jeremiason)

A Boyes Hot Springs man will be sentenced to 10 years in prison for attacking a developmentally disabled man who endeared himself to the community with a customized tricycle he rode in parades and other small-town events.

Logan Dunning, 23, pleaded no contest Friday to attempted murder causing great bodily injury in last year's assault and stabbing of Austin Ridge, 29, of Sonoma Valley, who was found on the side of the road with a broken jaw, stab wounds and other serious injuries.

Dunning, who originally was charged with four felonies including mayhem, was preparing for trial when the plea bargain was reached. He faced an additional six counts of arson for a series of Santa Rosa car fires that occurred around the same time.

Under the agreement, he pleaded no contest to attempting to kill Ridge and one count of arson. The remaining charges will be dismissed at his Nov. 14 sentencing.

Ridge, who attended Friday's hearing with family members, said he was relieved to be able to avoid testifying in front of Dunning at trial.

“I'm just happy they caught the guy,” said Ridge as he left court with the assistance of a walking stick.

Dunning faced about 20 years in prison if convicted at trial.

His lawyer, Joe Stogner, said Dunning had been struggling with alcohol addiction and psychological problems at the time of the attack. He has been working on his issues in jail and is sorry for what happened, Stogner said.

“He has turned a huge corner,” Stogner said. “If there's a silver lining in addition to that Austin Ridge seems to be improving, it's that Logan Dunning is on the mend, so to speak.”

The gregarious Ridge was known for riding his trike miles around the city every day, meeting people along the way. He became disabled in a car crash about a decade ago.

Police said he was riding home from a pub on April 25, 2012, when Dunning pounced on him. He was beaten with fists and a rock and was stabbed in the arms and torso. A newspaper delivery person found him in the side of Lucas Avenue the next morning.

The case went unsolved for a time until Dunning was picked up as a suspect in the car fires. DNA evidence from a knife and clothing found at his home linked him to the attack on Ridge, police said.

Meanwhile, Ridge's family members said they hoped Dunning would get treatment for anger while he serves his sentence. And Ridge said he would resume participation in the town's Fourth of July parade after taking a year off.

He said he's decorated his new tricycle with 84 LED lights.

“1984 is the year I was born,” he said outside court.

(You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com.)

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