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Soldier Helped by People He's Never Met
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 9:54:51 PM

A soldier who was charged with beating a man he thought was assaulting two strangers was, in turn, bailed out of jail by people he'd never met, and now has an attorney who volunteered to work for free.

Matthew Nicholson, 22, an Army private first class based in Fort Campbell, Ky., was taking a walk with his sisters and girlfriend on Sept. 1 when a boy ran up to them saying his father was hurting his mother and grandmother. The group followed the boy to his home. The door was open and adults were arguing inside, Nicholson said.

He walked in, and confronted Martin Lemas, who was inside with two women. The situation escalated, the police came, and Nicholson was arrested on a felony charge of assault while Lemas, 35, got medical treatment for bruises and a bleeding lip.

Lemas' mother later told police they'd been drinking and got into a fight. But neither woman pressed charges, so Lemas was not arrested.

On Monday a lawyer who'd heard of Nicholson's situation and believed he tried to do the right thing came to offer her services. That same day, a group of local residents who'd heard Nicholson's story paid his bail.

The district attorney's office said most cases like this are dismissed or end in a plea bargain. But if he's convicted, Nicholson could spend a year in county jail or as long as four years in state prison.

But given the choice, Nicholson said he'd do it all over again.

"I think I did the right thing, but that's for the court to decide," he said.
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