A man who police said had stabbed another man during a drug transaction was sentenced to probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Anthony J. Zeman, 31, of Madison, who was originally charged with first-degree reckless endangerment for stabbing Albert Landrum, 23, in the neck, clavicle and triceps in December 2011 during what was originally described as a marijuana deal, pleaded guilty to substantial battery under a plea agreement.

A criminal complaint states that the injured Landrum then beat and stomped Zeman.

Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz sentenced Zeman to three years of probation with a year in the Dane County Jail, but she made him eligible for the Treatment Alternatives Program, a jail diversion program, after two months.

Assistant District Attorney Paul Barnett said that Zeman had his own version of events in which Zeman had met with Landrum to buy heroin from him and that he defended himself with the knife after Landrum began to hit him.

Barnett said that injuries the men received are consistent with both versions of events, so the plea agreement was reached rather than take the case to trial and ask a jury to choose between the credibility of a drug dealer against a drug buyer.

"The facts could be construed in either way as to who the aggressor was," said Assistant Public Defender Murali Jasti, who represented Zeman.

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