An Augusta man who was armed with a knife, handcuffs and gloves when he broke into his ex-wife's home last year pleaded guilty Thursday.
If deputies hadn't arrived when they did, it's hard to imagine what might have happened, Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet said before sentencing David S. Hallford to seven years in prison followed by eight years of probation.
Mr. Hallford, 39, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to burglary, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, and domestic violence battery. He could have been sentenced to as much as 26 years in prison.
Jebbiden Hallford told the judge that she had no doubt that when her ex-husband is released from jail, neither she nor their son nor anyone who cared for her would be safe. He will find her, she said, "and eventually he will kill me."
What happened May 21 was part of a continuing pattern of behavior for her ex-husband, she said.
Deputies checking on a 911 hang-up call found Ms. Hallford crying and her ex-husband with a knife, handcuffs and gloves in his pockets. She had a bruised and swollen right cheek and some of her hair had been pulled out, according to a report in The Augusta Chronicle.
Mr. Hallford broke into the house and attacked Ms. Hallford when she arrived home with two small children, Assistant District Attorney Michael Carlson said. He began punching her with his fists when she tried to call police, Mr. Carlson said.
Two weeks earlier, they had both been in court to consent to a second order of protection, said her attorney, Andrew Tisdale. The first was issued against Mr. Hallford in connection with a charge of making harassing phone calls.
What Mr. Tisdale said he found most troubling is Mr. Hallford's contention that what happened was just because of some kind of emotional breakdown when he saw his son's toys.
Kelly Hatfield, who has known both Hallfords for more than a decade, testified on Ms. Hallford's behalf.
Just days before the attack, Mr. Hallford told Ms. Hatfield "he was going to go over to the house, break in and kill her (Ms. Hallford)," she said.
But Mr. Hallford and several defense witnesses testified that Ms. Hallford was in no future danger, and that she had spent time with her ex-husband or continued to talk to him without fear after they separated in 2003.
Mr. Hallford said the year he already has spent in jail has shown him what he did was wrong.
"The lesson has been learned," Mr. Hallford told Judge Overstreet. "Until this indiscretion, I never had so much as a traffic ticket."
Defense attorney Richard Allen asked the judge to release Mr. Hallford on probation. The case against him was really a domestic case that got out of hand, Mr. Allen said. It became a felony-level criminal case only because a friend of Ms. Hallford worked in the prosecutor's office, Mr. Allen said.
Mr. Carlson said that he was the one who took the case to the grand jury and that the prosecutor who knew both Hallfords had nothing to do with the case.
Judge Overstreet included in his sentence that when Mr. Hallford is released from prison, and while he is on probation, he is banished from Augusta as long as the victim lives there.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.