Gasoline assailant pleads guilty to attack |

Gasoline assailant pleads guilty to attack

Chad Abraham

A Pitkin County man once charged with attempted murder for dousing several men with gasoline and trying to set them afire pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony menacing with a deadly weapon.Carlos Ronay, 36, who lives between Carbondale and Redstone, was sentenced to six years of probation. Ronay said a substance-abuse problem led to the altercation. His attorney, public defender Greg Greer, said Ronay also has cognitive problems stemming from a skull fracture he suffered when he was 13.Wearing a pink shirt and black jeans in court Tuesday, Ronay said he was remorseful and ashamed of his actions.”I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” he said.If drinking had not affected his judgment in the August 2005 fight, the outcome would have been different, Ronay said.Prosecutor Gail Nichols said the victims challenged Ronay to a fight.He doused the men with gasoline and “tried to light the match,” she said.One of the men told police that he “could have been burned alive.” Another man said he “was blinded and I saw flashes coming at me and I just ran. I ran and ripped off my clothes as fast as a I could,” according to the arrest warrant.Ronay has a substantial substance-abuse problem and past criminal behavior, said Nichols, who also mentioned the cognitive issues. She recommended six years of probation, 90 days in jail with credit for time served, and 60 days of community service. Ronay has served 122 days.Greer countered that the men said, “We’re coming to kick your ass. We know where you live, you don’t know where we live, and we’re coming for you.”During the brawl, the men kicked the suspect in the head, and Ronay had to be hospitalized.”He was attacked by these men,” Greer said, adding that Ronay did not ignite the lighter after throwing the gas on the combatants.Ronay is a good candidate for probation, he said. He asked for a shorter probation, however, citing the victims’ aggression.”There are aggravating and mitigating circumstances,” Judge James Boyd said.On the aggravating side, “you came within a thin hair” of much more serious crimes, Boyd told Ronay.The outcome wasn’t planned but simply was “good fortune that you did not take the next step,” the judge said.Boyd imposed the six-year probationary sentence – which will be strictly supervised – noting that Ronay was taking his drinking issue seriously. Part of his sentence involves no contact with the victims; required use of Antabuse, an anti-drinking treatment; random drug tests; and mental health treatment, if his probation officer recommends it.