An Augusta man who beat his girlfriend less than two weeks after completing a jail sentence for abusing her earlier this year is headed to prison.
Jody B. Johnson, 24, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Richmond County Superior Court to family violence battery, which now can be a felony in Georgia, and misdemeanor stalking.
Judge Albert M. Pickett sentenced Mr. Johnson to serve five years in prison.
He imposed the sentence after hearing from both sides and viewing photographs of a battered Angel L. Barton.
Mr. Johnson was arrested June 21 after Ms. Barton went to University Hospital for treatment. The police were called and an officer took photographs of her injuries.
Mr. Johnson had been released from the Richmond County jail 20 days earlier after serving time for family violence.
In that case, Mr. Johnson abused Ms. Barton in front of her child.
Of the June incident, Mr. Johnson said Wednesday that he was sorry, that Ms. Barton started the violence by striking him first and that he overreacted.
Mr. Johnson had been under a court order to stay away from Ms. Barton after his release, but she was the one who continued to contact him, defense attorney Danny Durham said.
Assistant District Attorney Kate Edwards said a recent change in the law allows prosecutors to seek a felony indictment against someone who has a prior domestic violence conviction.
However, the prior conviction cannot be for simple battery, it has to be for family violence, she said.
Mrs. Edwards said the prosecutor's office would like for the public and law enforcement officers to be aware of the distinction and the difference a charge can make.
Misdemeanor battery is punishable by a maximum one-year sentence in the county jail.
The new felony family violence is punishable by a maximum five-year sentence in prison.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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