'It was a truly healing experience for me.'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A teenager will avoid decades in jail at the request of the man she beat up.

The 18 year-old woman used a baton to beat former Hennepin County Board Chair Mark Andrew after an accomplice stole his cell phone from a Starbucks at Mall of America.

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The attack left Andrew with broken teeth, a concussion and an injured shoulder. He’ll soon undergo surgery to repair that, but as his physical wounds healed, he found the emotional strength to move forward.

“It was a life changing experience, but in many ways it was a life changing for the better,” Andrew said. “It was a truly healing experience for me. I didn’t feel any anger against any of the attackers.”

A believer in the justice system, Andrew said he didn’t think prison was the appropriate sentence for this case.

In lieu of prison time, he asked the judge sentence his attackers to the same sentence: a year of mandatory therapy, graduation from high school on time and emersion in an arts program of their choice for one year.

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On Tuesday, the judge agreed. Deea Elliot faced the most serious charges of the three cases, but received the requested punishment.

“She came up to me afterwards,” Andrew recalled. “She hugged me and thanked me and apologized. She was super emotional. I was emotional.”

In this time of giving, Andrew said the biggest gift he can give is for these teenagers to get a fair chance at a bright future. That begins with doing the work to get on the right track.

“She’s had a hard life, and now she has chances to make good choices for her life,” he said.

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Elliot could have been sentenced to 15 years. Instead, her sentence was 180 days plus the terms of probation. Andrew said he’ll continue to work with the county to get Elliot enrolled in any arts program she wants.