Ridge attacker pleads ‘no contest’

The man accused in the brutal beating and stabbing of Austin Ridge in April 2012, pleaded “no contest” Friday to charges of attempted murder and faces 10 years in prison.

A “no contest” plea is the legal equivalent of a “guilty” plea.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, Logan Dunning, 23, of Boyes Hot Springs, was also charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and mayhem. In a separate case, he was charged with six counts of arson in connection with a string of car fires in Santa Rosa. The assault with a deadly weapon charges and the mayhem charge will be dropped as part of the plea bargain.

At the time of the brutal assault, Dunning was on probation for convictions on obstruction, burglary, possessing a deadly weapon and battery.

Dunning’s trial was scheduled to begin Monday.

The 28-year-old Ridge, who had become disabled in a car accident years ago, was found lying on the ground April 25, 2012, in Boyes Hot Springs with a broken jaw, a fractured nose, head injuries and stab wounds to his arm and torso. He’d been attacked while riding his custom-made tricycle home from a Sonoma Valley pub after midnight. Dunning was connected to the assault when a knife with Ridge’s DNA was found in Dunning’s home during the investigation into Santa Rosa area car burglaries and an arson.

Dunning faced a potential sentence of 13 years if convicted as charged. He also pleaded no contest to arson of property – a vehicle, in an additional case, and agreed to serve a three-year prison term, concurrent to his term in the attempted murder case.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch said, “We’re pleased with this outcome, which reflects the brutality of Dunning’s assault on Mr. Ridge and assures a lengthy and appropriate prison term.”

Ridge, who was already partially disabled as the result of an auto accident in Oregon in 2004, spent a month in the hospital after the attack. He was attacked on his way home from the Old Sonoma Public House the night of April 25, 2012, and was found at 4:30 a.m., lying in the 18000 block of Lucas Avenue by a newspaper delivery person. He was severely beaten, had stab wounds, and had to undergo emergency surgery to treat bleeding on his brain. He had no memory of the attack and his recovery was slowed when he contracted meningitis.

His mother, Kim Ridge, said she and the family are glad the ordeal is over.

“He didn’t want to go through a trial,” she said. “It would have been very stressful.”

Kim Ridge said the family talked with their attorney after the plea agreement was proposed.

She said that the most important part of the plea agreement is that Dunning now has two strikes – one for the attempted murder and the second for the arson. “We’re just afraid he’ll hurt someone else after he gets out,” she said. “But he’ll have two strikes.” A third strike would mean a lengthy prison term, possibly for life.

As it is, Dunning gets credit for the year-and-a-half he’s spent in county jail, so with good behavior, he could be out in seven years.

“Austin suffered his traumatic brain injury in a car accident,” Kim Ridge said. “What Logan Dunning did to him was no accident.”

Dunning’s sentencing hearing will take place on Nov. 14.