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Sentence for ex-Marine who bit deputy could change

VISTA, CA. -- A retired Marine who was captured on a surveillance camera pouring soda over his head and then moments later getting into a violent struggle with deputies learned his sentence in a Vista courtroom Monday, but  prosecutors say the case may not be over yet.

Superior Court Judge Carlos Armour pronounced the sentence for 30-year-old Casey Clason.

“This was a an agreed upon plea for the defendant to be screened for Veterans' Court. If he’s not accepted then he has to serve 365 days in custody, releasable after serving 270 days to a residential treatment center,” said the Honorable Judge Carlos Armour.

Clason, a Marine combat veteran suffering from severe PTSD and substance abuse, was given a sentence that could change depending on his acceptance into a county veterans' treatment facility.

“It’s specifically for our veterans who are experiencing some kind of mental health issue as a result of their service,” said Deputy District Attorney Zachary Wallace. "You have to get accepted into that. You have to get screened for that. He has not been screened, and he will be, and on July 11 we’ll know if he’s going to actually go to Veterans' Court instead of the sentence the defense attorney and our office agreed to."

In April, Clason was arrested for resisting arrest and two counts of assault on a police officer. The incident was all caught on camera. It began in a 7-Eleven on East Vista Way. Security video, shows Clason inside the store emptying a bottle of coke over his head. He then walks out.

Deputies were sent to the store and found Clason unresponsive and growling in a nearby parking lot. San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Cotrell was one of the deputies injured by Clason in the struggle that followed.

“He ripped the Taser barbs out as he was falling to the ground, and he got right back up,” said Cotrell.

During the trial, Cotrell said deputies struggled to detain Clason and that’s when he bit Cotrell, refusing to let go.

“He was making weird umm, growling sounds, and he was doing this weird gnawing thing with his mouth on my shin and leg area,” Cotrell said .

Wallace said Veteran's Court is the best place to get help for Clason.

“There’s going to be substance abuse issue treatment. There’s going to be mental health issue treatment, and a lot more is asked of them than we might see in other places, but ultimately they have the opportunity to earn a full-on dismissal, as if this conviction didn’t happen," Wallace said.  "And it’s something the legislature enacted for our veterans who are experiencing issues due to their service.  We take everything into account, we want to know the person, the history what happened in this case and we hopefully come to what’s a just outcome.”