The West Virginia State Parole Board this week denied Austin Vantrease early release from his 2- to 10-year sentence for his role in a Nov. 7, 2009, attack on Ashburn resident Ryan Diviney.
Vantrease’s hearing was held at the Huttonsville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison in West Virginia where Vantrease is serving his sentence.
The November 2009 incident allegedly started after someone made a comment about a baseball game. Vantrease and May were convicted for a brutal beating near the West Virginia University campus that left Diviney in a coma-like state. Diviney, who attended Broad Run High School, requires constant care from his family.
A jury found Vantrease guilty of felony malicious assault and May of battery. May served a one-year in jail and was released in April 2011 after serving seven months. Vantrease received a 2- to 10-year sentence, and the parole hearing was his first opportunity for release.
Diviney’s friend and college roommate, Brian McLhinney, was also injured in the attack. McLhinney and Diviney were knocked unconscious, at which point Vantrease began kicking Diviney in the head.
Ryan Diviney’s father, Ken Diviney, and McLhinney filed a joint civil lawsuit last year against six men they claim were involved in the attack, to include Vantrease and May. That trial is scheduled for next summer.
Vantrease previously sought to have Ken Diviney restricted from posting information about the case on the Ryan's Rally website about his son because it could influence the jury in the civil case. A federal judge rejected the request.
“I was personally offended that my voice was trying to be silenced, let alone by those I believe are accountable for my son's extreme injuries,” Ken Diviney said in a recent email. “It's never been my objective to influence a jury. Not once did this cross my mind. I am convinced that the facts of the case should do that just fine. There is absolutely no one in this world that wants a fair trial more than I.”
The Ashburn community has embraced the Diviney family, participating in numerous fundraisers and helping whenever possible. Earlier this year, Blue Moon Construction donated the construction of a kitchenette to help the family care for Ryan.
“This is a company that cares, beginning with the owner, John Ronay,” Ken Diviney said in a recent email. “They did so much for us in better taking care of Ryan. I am thankful for them each time I use the kitchenette many times daily. Their generosity and superior craftsmanship has improved our situation tremendously.”
Vantrease will again be eligible for parole in a year.