A man who pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-wife to the point where she can no longer take care of herself was sentenced to prison Monday, just over eight months after the incident happened.
Larry D. Crawford, 44, of Fort Dodge, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He must serve six years before he is considered for parole.
On Oct. 1, Crawford pleaded guilty in Webster County District Court to one count of domestic abuse/assault causing bodily injury, third or subsequent offense as a habitual offender, and one count of assault causing serious injury as a habitual offender. Each conviction carries a 15-year maximum sentence with a minimum three-year requirement. The sentences will be served consecutively.
Crawford admitted to hitting his ex-wife, Jolene Crawford, 39, twice in their Fort Dodge home at 339 Loomis Ave. on March 2. According to Larry Crawford, his ex-wife collapsed on the floor of their bedroom after he hit her the second time.
He was originally charged with attempted murder, but accepted a plea agreement the night before he was supposed to stand trial.
During his sentencing Monday, Larry Crawford heard a victim impact statement from Merrie Davies, Jolene Crawford's mother.
"I was blindsided by all this," Davies said. "I thought things were going well. Jolene was in seventh heaven when she got back with him."
"Unfortunately, this happened," she added.
Davies went on to say that her daughter continues to suffer today because of Larry Crawford's actions.
"I just can't put into words how she's suffered," Davies said. "She's still suffering."
Davies said Jolene Crawford, who is now living at the Harmony House Health Care Center in Waterloo, can't move or speak, and has to be fed through a tube. She's completely dependent on others to take care of her, according to Davies.
She added there's no way of knowing if her daughter's condition will get better.
"I hope to God she does," Davies said, adding that Larry Crawford has never expressed remorse for his actions.
Though Larry Crawford didn't speak during the hearing, his attorney, Charles Kenville, made a statement on behalf of his client.
Kenville said while Larry Crawford has never shown remorse to Davies, that didn't mean his client didn't feel guilty about his actions.
"I can state to the court unequivocally that my client does have remorse," Kenville said. "He does accept total responsibility for the injuries he inflicted upon Jolene."
Kenville added that he's seen first-hand Crawford's reaction to updates on his ex-wife's condition.
"When I have provided him medical reports to review in anticipation of trial, he weeps openly at what he has done," he said. "The entire situation is just sad."
He added that the reason Crawford accepted the plea agreement was because he wanted to take responsibility for what he'd done.
"He's going to pay the price for that," Kenville said. "He knows he has to be punished and he is ready."
Before sentencing Crawford, Bice spoke directly to the defendant. He told Crawford that the facts of this case make him angry.
"Ms. Crawford will have to live with the results of your actions for the rest of her life," Bice said. "She's in an institution and has to be fed with a tube. She is permanently and severely brain injured because of your actions."
"I hope you understand why it is that I express a certain element of anger," he added.
Reading from the pre-sentence investigation report, Bice highlighted Crawford's criminal record, which includes convictions for armed robbery, burglary and assault on a peace officer. Crawford has also served prison time in five states, including Iowa, Illinois and Arkansas.
Because of Crawford's record, Bice said if it were up to him, the defendant would be getting a longer prison sentence.
"It is with great reluctance that I accept this plea agreement," he said. "I'm going to accept it because that's the way our criminal justice system works."
He also expressed regret that Jolene Crawford wasn't able to speak for herself during the hearing.
"I wish from the perspective of what justice demands here that we could have heard from Ms. Crawford," Bice said. "That way we could ensure her that justice has been done. It's a sad day."
Kenville declined to comment on the sentencing. Webster County Attorney Cori Kuhn Coleman thanked the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Iowa Attorney General's office "for their assistance in obtaining justice for Jolene and her family."