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A Sun Prairie man was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison for a knife attack on his former girlfriend, which left her with disfiguring injuries to her face, among many other wounds.

Tyras C. Tolden, 21, had several things going for him despite growing up under challenging circumstances, Dane County Circuit Judge Nicholas McNamara said, including a high school diploma, a job and a fairly clean criminal record, until the bizarre March 22, 2017, incident at an apartment in the town of Madison.

“Most people can’t believe you did this because it’s so extreme,” McNamara said. “It’s so out of the ordinary.”

According to a criminal complaint, Tolden showed up at the woman’s apartment after the woman had kicked him out, asking to get back together with her. He forced his way inside and attacked her in a small bathroom, stabbing her repeatedly with a knife that was in the apartment.

Assistant District Attorney Valerian Powell said that despite 17 cut and stab wounds that were inflicted, Tolden somehow didn’t strike any vital organs during the attack, which the woman ended by managing to get into a hallway and tell a neighbor to call police.

The reason that the woman survived, he said, was luck. The surgeon who treated the woman noted, unusually, that her wounds were “so forceful, so brutal that it shows an intent to kill,” Powell said.

When police soon after found Tolden on a Beltline overpass bridge, Powell said, they thought at first that he was injured because of the blood all over his clothing, but all of it was the woman’s blood. He said that Tolden acted strangely to police and danced around.

Tolden was initially charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide and mayhem but pleaded guilty in November to first-degree reckless endangerment and mayhem. McNamara sentenced Tolden to 12 years in prison, followed by five years of extended supervision, for the mayhem conviction, and a concurrent five-year sentence for reckless endangerment.

That was essentially the sentence that Powell had sought. Tolden’s lawyer, Laura Breun, asked for a seven-year prison sentence.

Tolden, in a letter he read to McNamara, apologized and said he feels deep remorse for the trauma that he caused, but he said that deep down he knows that he isn’t the kind of person who would inflict that trauma.

“What I did was extremely wrong, but I’m not a bad person, “ he said.

Breun, who had represented Tolden on a previous case and knew him before the stabbing incident, said she and others who knew Tolden were shocked to see that he had done this. She said that while his use of alcohol and drugs explained what he did, it didn’t excuse it, although she said that he’s come a long way to taking full responsibility for his actions.

Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.