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Atascadero man gets third strike in stabbing 

An Atascadero man convicted in the July stabbing of a transient in San Luis Obispo has been sentenced to 29 years in prison under California’s three strikes law.

Harley Finney, 28, was sentenced Jan. 17 to 29-years-to-life after being convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing a 19-year-old in downtown San Luis Obispo.

After a trial described by his attorney as “a rollercoaster,” jurors in November found Finney guilty of assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors alleged the stabbing was “payback” for a fight that broke out between the defendant and a transient male earlier in the day.

At Finney’s sentencing, Superior Court Judge John Trice was tasked to decide whether two previous convictions for Finney—assault convictions from the beating of another San Luis Obispo man in 1999, which occurred when Finney was 16 years old—could be considered as two separate strikes.

Trice agreed with prosecutors that because Finney assaulted the man and returned roughly 30 minutes later and assaulted him again, the attack could be considered two separate strikes.

Defense attorney Ray Allen had argued that because of the nature and close proximity in time of the circumstances involved in his prior conviction, both should be considered a single strike.

Allen also tried to prove Finney was trying to get his life on the right track after a “heartbreaking” childhood and showing he had the “capacity and ability to be a productive member of society” after he got a job at a local high-end resort following his release from prison in 2007.

“When I spoke with [Finney] afterwards, he had a lot of tearful remorse,” Allen said. “I think there’s a lot more to Mr. Finney than being just some violent guy.”

During Finney’s trial, the victim of the July stabbing recanted his identification of Finney as his assailant numerous times.

Allen said Finney has filed a notice of appeal.

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