Punishment for man who injured disabled man in fight over Clovis parking spot

Prosecutors say it was the victim who started the fight.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A disabled man who badly injured another disabled man in a fight over a handicapped parking spot in Clovis got his punishment Thursday and he won't go to jail.

There's no denying the damage done to Joe Carrera. Bruising on his face highlighted injuries to his eye, cheek, and nose, suffered in a fight over a parking space at the Clovis Home Depot in October 2019.

Carrera told Action News he was trying to pull out of the space, but the guy behind him got impatient, so Carrera got out of his car and went up to the other man's truck.

"Before I know it I see him lunging at me and he struck me with both fists like this," he told us in 2019. "I didn't have a chance to defend myself or anything."

RELATED: Fresno man arrested for brutally assaulting Clovis grandfather following dispute over parking spot

Police called it a case of road rage without the road and after our story aired, they tracked down the suspect, John Bell.

He hobbled into court on a cane to face three felony charges.

As the case developed, new details came to light. For instance, prosecutor Tim Donovan says Bell didn't start the fight with Carrera.

"It was the victim, mind you, that got out of his car first," the senior deputy district attorney Donovan said. "It was the victim, mind you, that also approached the defendant who was still in his car. But for those two things we probably wouldn't have the subsequent altercation."

Bell's defense attorney says Carrera didn't just get out of his car and come over to Bell's truck. He pounded on the truck with his hands until Bell got out.

"There was evidence of property damage to my client's vehicle as a result of the victim in this case striking it," said defense attorney Jon Renge.

Prosecutors say what happened next was an overreaction and a crime.

RELATED: Man accused of assaulting Clovis grandfather over parking spot pleads not guilty in court

But because Bell was provoked and has no history of violence, they supported the judge's punishment decision in the case.

The probation department recommended just 180 days on electronic monitoring, but the judge sentenced Bell to 120 days on electronic monitoring and 25 hours of community service, which the newly convicted felon already finished by helping administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Bell is not allowed to initiate contact with Carrera while he's on probation, but there's nothing stopping him from going back to Home Depot or the parking spot where the problem started.
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