Beating victim sues attackers

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SANDPOINT — A Bonner County woman who was viciously beaten last year is suing the two teens who perpetrated the attack.

Vera Gadman’s suit against Marshall Owens Dittrich and Joseph John Martin seeks no less than $10,000 in damages for medical expenses, future lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

Vera Gadman’s legal counsel filed the civil complaint in 1st District Court on Oct. 3.

Martin and Dittrich, both 17, were runaways from a therapeutic boarding school in northwestern Montana. Gadman encountered the duo hitchhiking near Clark Fork last summer and offered to give them a lift to a campsite on the Hope peninsula.

When they arrived at a remote area on the peninsula, the two set upon Gadman as she sat in the front seat of her vehicle.

Court documents in the criminal case portray Martin as the chief aggressor. He allegedly used his forearm to choke Gadman into unconsciousness. When she came to, she was choked further with a ligature and Martin repeatedly hit her over the head with a bottle.

Gadman, who was 66 at the time, was able to escape the vehicle, but was pelted by rocks hurled by both defendants, according to court records. Martin and Dittrich fled, but were later apprehended in a sheriff’s dragnet.

Both were charged as adults with battery with intent to commit robbery. They pleaded guilty and were sentenced as adults, despite defense arguments that it would more appropriate to incarcerate them in a juvenile setting.

Martin, a Denver resident, was ordered in June to serve up to 15 years in prison with parole eligibility after three years. Dittrich, of Danville, Calif., was sentenced last month to 10 years, but jurisdiction was retained.

When a court retains jurisdiction, defendants are imprisoned at a medium-security facility for up to a year and then considered for probation.

District Judge Steve Verby said the defendants’ differing roles in the attack accounted for the variance between the sentences.

Although the defendants’ roles were distinct in the criminal case, Gadman’s counsel, Coeur d’Alene attorney James Bendell, attributes the specific acts of harm to both defendants.

Gadman suffered head, neck, wrist, facial and back injuries in the blitz, according to the civil complaint.

The civil suit lists up to five John Doe defendants who may also bear liability in the case.

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