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Charleston man sentenced in Impulse stabbing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man who pleaded guilty to charges in the stabbing of a University of Charleston football player outside a Capitol Street nightclub told a judge if given home confinement, he'd never commit another crime.

Aris Travon Hairston, 27, pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding in the January stabbing of Kevin Clemens, 18, of Pittsburgh. Impulse nightclub was shut down soon after the incident.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey sentenced Hairston to 1 to 5 years in prison Monday, after listing about 20 charges he had faced since 2004.

"Every one of these incidents show how he kind of was able to see a system that didn't do much to him for his conduct," Bailey said. "In 2006, domestic battery, destruction of property -- dismissed, no victim ... 2006, domestic battery, dismissed -- probably a no-show of a victim, I'm guessing.

"Now, today, we have a victim that has shown up. I've seen photographs of this victim's scarring and read the anguish and experience of his mother as she drove four hours to be at her son's side," the judge said, referring to the victim impact statements the Clemens family submitted.

Clemens sat in the courtroom with his mother. Before the hearing, he said he had recovered from the three stab wounds he received to his stomach and planned to play football for UC in the fall.

According to a criminal complaint, Clemens told detectives he got into an altercation with a man who bumped into him on the club's dance floor. A witness said the incident started after Clemens "shoulder checked" Hairston, making him spill his drink at the club. The witness said he offered to beat up Clemens, and Hairston responded, "I will handle it," the complaint states.

Police obtained surveillance video that shows Hairston "in the face" of Clemens outside the club, before lunging toward Clemens and stabbing him, according the complaint.

Kanawha assistant prosecutor Fred Giggenbach told the judge Monday that after stabbing Clemens, Hairston told him, "You better check your innards."

Bailey said she had received some letters suggesting Hairston was acting in self-defense. But the judge repeated a statement from the criminal complaint, when Hairston told his girlfriend, who was at the club early Sunday, "That will teach him when someone asks you to back up."

"That was the mentality of Mr. Hairston at the time when he brutally stabbed this victim," Bailey said. "Everyone thinks this is some anomaly that doesn't represent Mr. Hairston and how he was raised, but it certainly was the Mr. Hairston that stabbed this young man on that night."

Hairston told the judge he regrets what he did.

"I'm very sorry to Mr. Clemens and his family. I made a wrong decision that night that I regret every day that I wake up," he said. "I'd like to say I'm sorry to my family, especially my mother, that she had to come down here on her birthday."

After Monday's hearing, Hairston was returned to the South Central Regional Jail.

Charleston police initially arrested and then dropped charges against a 22-year-old Charleston man, whom witnesses had mistakenly identified as the person who stabbed Clemens.

Mayor Danny Jones, before yanking the club's business permit, said the stabbing was one of many crimes police have linked to the club since it opened in 2007.

Reach Kate White at 304-348-1723 or kate.white@wvgazette.com


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