A Forest Lake man has been sentenced to prison for attacking a woman because he thought she was driving the wrong way while heading to a casino in Anoka County.

Justin J. Cardinal, 33, was given a 10-year term in District Court after pleading guilty to second-degree assault in the attack last November that left the woman with head and hand injuries.

"This innocent victim was attacked for no reason and suffered terrible injuries," said County Attorney Tony Palumbo.

Cardinal received credit for 111 days he has spent in jail since his arrest. After about 6½ years, he'll be eligible to leave prison and serve out his term on supervised release.

According to prosecutors:

On Nov. 20, Cardinal hit a man with a hammer in a Washington County home. Asked to leave, Cardinal joined his female roommate and another woman who were driving from the home.

The roommate was driving to the Running Aces casino in Columbus, when Cardinal became angry because he thought she was heading the wrong way. She stopped the vehicle and asked Cardinal to drive.

Cardinal, now behind the wheel, turned around and glared at his roommate. While turned, the car went into a ditch in Anoka.

They walked to a nearby home seeking help. While the homeowner was assisting with the car, Cardinal took a hammer out of a bag and repeatedly hit his roommate in the head.

The homeowner called 911, and Cardinal fled. A search involving officers, a police canine and a helicopter tracked him to a vehicle in a garage. The hammer was found in his backpack.

Paul Walsh