A Casper educator accused of trying to run over his ex-wife last year and of kicking her in the ribs in 2016 was sentenced Monday to one year of probation.
Kellan Holbrook, 34, pleaded guilty to a single count of misdemeanor domestic battery last month. At the time of his November arrest, he was a second-grade teacher at Crest Hill Elementary.
Holbrook sat silently next to his attorney, Don Fuller, as Holbrook’s ex-wife and then daughter spoke about the impact of Holbrook’s abuse. Holbrook’s sentence had been agreed upon last month, when he pleaded guilty to domestic battery in exchange for prosecutors dropping three other misdemeanor charges.
His ex-wife rose from her seat in the room and told Judge Steven Brown that her relationship with Holbrook began in 2006, and that within three months, it had become emotionally and verbally abusive. She said that within a year, the abuse allegedly became physical.
As she spoke, describing how the abuse continued after the birth of her and Holbrook’s first child, a woman in the back who arrived with Holbrook shook her head repeatedly.
The Star-Tribune typically does not name victims of domestic violence.
The victim told Brown that it had been three years since Holbrook kicked her in the abdomen, breaking her ribs. She said she and her children continue to deal with PTSD, nightmares and hypervigilance. Her daughter sat next to her and cried.
“I stayed in an abusive marriage for far too long,” the woman said. She added that it would be “insensitive and false” to suggest that she and her children should have healed and moved on by now.
She said she hadn’t previously told anyone about Holbrook’s behavior because he had told her that no one would believe her, given his status as a teacher and his family ties to law enforcement. Holbrook’s uncle is Gus Holbrook, the Natrona County sheriff.
She added that she was “greatly concerned” that Kellan Holbrook’s behavior would continue and that her nightmares had intensified since August 2018, when she said Holbrook hit her with his truck as he was backing out of a Dairy Queen parking lot.
Fuller, Holbrook’s attorney, previously said the charges were the result of an “ugly divorce” and that his ex-wife had jumped in front of the truck as Holbrook was leaving.
Before she sat down, the woman asked Brown to “impose consequences that reflect the seriousness of (Holbrook’s) actions.”
You have free articles remaining.
Before their daughter spoke, Fuller asked Brown to clear the courtroom, arguing that because the girl was a juvenile, the statement should be given in a closed court. Brown ignored that request and allowed the girl to speak.
Through tears, the girl said it had “been very hard” and that she had thought a lot about what to tell the court. She said she was dealing with “anger and sadness.” She recounted Holbrook’s alleged history of abuse: how he spit in his then-wife’s face, how he had yelled at her mom, had kicked the woman and finally when he hit her mother with his truck.
“My father hurt me very badly,” the girl said. “ ... I don’t understand why he did it.”
She, too, asked for consequences “for what he’s done.”
After the girl finished, Brown said he “can’t say anything to top that.” He signed the judgment, though he didn’t say what that sentence was, and the two groups — those sitting with Holbrook and those sitting with his ex-wife and daughter — exited the courtroom separately.
Fuller later told the Star-Tribune that Holbrook was sentenced to one year of probation with a six-month suspended jail sentence.
The hearing ends a 12-month case that gained public attention when Holbrook was arrested in November at Crest Hill Elementary. He previously worked at University Park, which closed in June 2018.
Holbrook was placed on administrative leave at the Natrona County School District after that. He was transferred to a desk job at the district’s headquarters in the months after his arrest, officials said. Now that the criminal side of the incident is set, the district will begin its own inquiry into Holbrook, officials previously told the Star-Tribune.
Verba Echols, the associate superintendent for human resources, was sitting in the back of the courtroom Monday, behind Holbrook. She had previously been at another hearing for Holbrook. A spokeswoman for the district said Monday that she didn’t have an update to what officials has previously said.
Holbrook, who was in his fifth year of full-time teaching in Casper when he was arrested, has been permanently replaced at Crest Hill, and district records show he is still working out of the district’s administrative offices.
Star-Tribune staff writer Shane Sanderson contributed to this report.