By Jennifer McGraw

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The man accused of nearly killing a local international hero changed his plea Friday.

“To be honest I don’t know what I was hoping for, I just wanted to go and see the guy face-to-face,” said the victim,  Spencer Stone. 

It was a surprise plea deal. Stone, now 24, was ready to go to trial next week, but his attacker changed his mind.

“I was hoping he would look my way, but he didn’t,” Stone said.

James Tran, now 29, was arrested and charged for the attack on Stone back in October 2015.

Investigators said the altercation happened outside a nightclub on K Street and was caught on surveillance video. Stone said he tried to fight off multiple men before ultimately being stabbed four times and collapsing.

“Once I saw all of them coming towards me I knew I was in a fight for my life,” he said. “Every doctor I’ve ever talk to has told me how lucky I am.”

It was a major reality shock for Stone who was in the Air Force and had just been awarded a Purple Heart and recognized by the President for stopping a terrorist attack aboard a French passenger train a month and a half prior.

“It was kind of crazy because I was at such a high point in my life and that kind of brought me to a real low,” he said.

Stone suffered a puncture to his heart, liver, and lung.

“It’s like ‘life is awesome,’ then boom I’m in the ICU,” Stone said.

He remembers lying in a room next to a young man who died from pneumonia. That moment was life changing for stone. 

“It really just put things into perspective. I broke down in tears,” Stone said. “I just didn’t understand why I was still alive.”

Thankful to be alive, he doesn’t harbor any ill will.

“I know we all make dumb decisions in our lives, some dumber than others and I hope he can take this experience to learn from it and come out a better guy,” he said.

Stone is now a civilian and ready to start as a student at Sacramento State University.

Tran will be back in court on May 12 for a formal sentencing of nine years behind bars. 


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