LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A judge has sentenced a Huntington man to prison for 20 years for threatening his wife with a long sword before he hit her with a meth pipe last year.
District Judge Barry Bryan sentenced James Christopher Fetzer, 42, to the 20-year prison term on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He also sentenced him to two concurrent 10-year terms for unrelated charges of assault-family violence and possession of a controlled substance.
In court, Fetzer's family stuck by him and asked the judge for a second chance.
"He's a totally different person when he is not on drugs," said wife Beth Betser. "It's not right. My daughter has to grow up without her dad."
In a pre-sentencing investigation, evidence of mental illness was presented. Fetzer claimed if he is given a second chance, he would get on medication and off of drugs.
"Judge, I love my wife. I have been with her for 14 years," Fetzer said. "If let out, I'll have a system in place."
Judge Bryan told Fetzer that mental illness is a sticky situation when it comes to the legal system.
"There is no good answer," Bryan said. "If there is a mental health place I could send you for help, then I would."
Prosecuting attorney Layne Thompson said that Fetzer has been given a chance for help.
"I think this defendant could have gotten help from the Burke Center if he wanted it," Thompson said. "He could have gotten medications and stayed on them but didn't, so there's still choices made by these defendants and there is help out there; a lot of these folks don't seek it, or they'll seek it and when they feel better, they will stop taking the medicines."
According to the arrest affidavit, Fetzer went to his home in the 1100 block of Twin Oaks on Jan. 13, 2013, after being gone for several days. His wife met him in the yard and asked him not to come inside and start any arguments with her because their 7-year-old daughter and three of her friends were inside.
Fetzer left the property and returned a short time later with a long sword, according to the arrest affidavit. He allegedly entered the home, placed the sword against his wife's throat, and applied enough pressure that the woman could not breathe or yell for help. The only reason that Fetzer stopped was that the little girls in the home started screaming, according to the affidavit.
Then, throughout the rest of the day and the following night, Fetzer and his wife argued over his infidelity. According to the arrest report, Fetzer started hitting her in the head with a meth pipe because he wanted her "to smoke meth and have sex with him."
In addition, Fetzer punched his wife in the face and chest five to 10 times. Fetzer's wife suffered with two black eyes and bruises on her chest as a result of the beating.
Fetzer pleaded guilty to the crime in January, but no-showed his sentencing hearing in April. He was arrested in June after a deputy on patrol along US 69 south of Lufkin spotted a vehicle parked in a commercial driveway and went to check it out because he knew it was normally driven by Fetzer. The deputy confirmed that the driver was indeed Fetzer and arrested him on outstanding warrants.
Fetzer was allegedly found to be in possession of a 1.2 grams of a crystal-like substance that field-tested positive as methamphetamine.
The second assault charge came after on June 17, 2013 when they argued about his infidelity, and he began strangling her, according to Thompson. Thompson said she broke free and he then punched her in the face several times.