A man who assaulted the mother of his children at knifepoint — and then repeatedly threatened to kill her —is hoping that some time in prison will help him turn his life around, according to his attorney.
Seventh District Judge Lyle R. Anderson sentenced James Paul Ford last week to one to 15 years in state prison, after the defendant pleaded guilty to a reduced second-degree felony charge of aggravated burglary.
In addition to the main charge, Ford pleaded guilty to third-degree felony counts of aggravated assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, as well as two counts of violating a protection order — a class A misdemeanor.
Judge Anderson ordered the 31-year-old man to serve zero to five years in state prison for each of the third-degree felonies; he was also sentenced to 18 months in jail for the misdemeanor offenses. However, those sentences will run concurrently to the main prison term.
“As long as he serves at least one year in prison, he won’t have to serve any jail time,” the judge said Aug. 26.
Defense attorney Steve Russell told the judge that his client welcomes the court’s sentence.
“He actually wants to go to prison,” Russell said.
According to Russell, Ford is struggling with some “fairly substantial” mental health issues.
Before the incident occurred, Ford had been seeing a psychiatrist once a week, and he was taking very expensive medications to keep his condition in check, Russell said.
But Ford couldn’t meet those expenses and provide for his children at the same time, Russell said. The incident happened soon after the treatment stopped, according to Russell.
“When he’s off his meds, anything can happen,” he said.
Ford, who previously had a boxing license in Colorado, told the court that he suffers from a traumatic brain injury with dissociative disorder.
According to Ford, his condition causes seizures and incidents of self-destructive behavior that he can’t remember.
“I lose track of time,” he said. “It’s terrifying.”
Ford attacked the mother of his children while he was on probation for numerous other offenses, including two counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child and attempted assault by a prisoner.
According to a probable cause statement for an arrest warrant, he broke into the woman’s house in the early morning hours of April 19 and then assaulted her over a six-hour period.
The woman told a Grand County Sheriff’s deputy that Ford pulled her hair, held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her.
All the while, he accused her of having a relationship with his friend, and as his anger and aggravation increased, he became more and more hostile, the woman said.
He only left the residence once her children woke up later that morning, she reported.
After he disappeared, the woman contacted a friend and told her what happened. The friend, in turn, contacted Ford’s supervising probation officer.
The probation officer was unable to track Ford down, and the defendant remained at large for three months.
Throughout that time, he continued to make harassing phone calls to the woman from as far away as Arizona. According to the probable cause statement, Ford once again threatened to hurt or kill the woman, as well as himself.
Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald originally charged Ford with first-degree aggravated burglary involving domestic violence, along with 13 other felony and misdemeanor offenses.
But he dismissed most of those charges — including three additional counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child — under the terms of a plea deal.
Fitzgerald said the woman is in favor of the agreement.
However, she didn’t want to appear in court because she believed it would have put her in an uncomfortable situation, Fitzgerald said.
Ford was ultimately remanded to the custody of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office for transportation to the Utah State Prison in Draper.
In addition to any prison or jail time he serves, he must pay $623 in restitution for damages he caused at the Grand County Jail.
ByBy Rudy Herndon