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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

District attorney: Sentence reduced for man convicted of 2017 attack on Chico State professor

Ryan Muscat, originally convicted of felony assault causing serious bodily harm in 2019, has had his sentence reduced by five years
Ryan Muscat, shown above, was convicted of felony assault in 2019 after attacking a Chico State professor in 2017. Courtesy: Butte County District Attorney’s Office

The sentence of a man convicted of attacking a Chico State mathematics professor in 2017 has been reduced from 18 to 13 years on Thursday, according to the Butte County District Attorney’s Office.

Ryan Muscat was sentenced to 18 years in state prison in 2020 after being convicted of felony assault causing serious bodily harm by a Butte County jury in 2019. Muscat attacked the 59-year-old professor, name unreleased, at his home in 2017.

According to the DA’s office, due to “recent legislative changes in the law which are designed to lessen the punishment for violent offenders” Muscat was able to appeal to have his sentence changed.

Muscat said under these new laws his bad childhood should mandate a lower term.

According to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, his office filed an opposition to Muscat’s appeal; citing the victim’s rights and “the public’s interest in keeping a dangerous felon off the streets for as long as possible.” Prosecutors also cited his meth use and mental health issues.

Butte County Superior Court Judge Michael Deems reduced the term by 27%, but refused to lower it any further, and cited public safety concerns. However, Deems has the ability to reimpose the original sentence if it is “found to be in the interest of justice.”

Muscat attacked the professor at his home in October 2017. The professor had been renting out a room to him, as a favor to Muscat’s employer who was also a friend.

After the professor attempted to evict him for his drug and alcohol abuse, Muscat went into his room and assaulted him, causing serious injuries to the professor’s face, shoulder and brain, permanently disabling him, according to Ramsey.

Muscat also received a felony strike conviction in Orange County for a 2006 robbery, and pleaded guilty to two other felonies involving throwing urine at Butte County Jail correctional staff at the time of his assault conviction.

Ramsey additionally stated Muscat took the stand in his own defense during the original trial and claimed the professor had attacked him first.

“Ramsey said his office pointed out to Judge Deems that Muscat continues to deny responsibility for his actions, blaming his bad childhood and also continuing to claim that the victim, a middle-aged professor with no criminal history, attacked him first,” the DA’s office said.

The DA’s office said with credit for the time Muscat has already served, he could be out in as little as four years.

The full press release can be found here

Legislature like California Assembly Bill 124, passed in 2021, requires judges to consider people’s lived experiences, such as childhood trauma, when sentencing. 

The Orion has reached out to the DA’s office, but has not heard back.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Ariana Powell
Ariana Powell, Editor-in-Chief
Ariana Powell is in her fourth year at Chico State as a media arts (criticism) and journalism (news) double-major. Now in her fourth semester on The Orion and having assumed the editor-in-chief position, she is prepared to continue helping upcoming journalists and endeavors to continue building her repertoire of multimedia and writing skills. In her free time, she enjoys writing, watching and analyzing films, reading and spending time with her loved ones.

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