Assault Trial Ends In Plea Agreement

After one day of evidence, it was clear to John Paul Lawrence that the case against him was convincing. He was claiming self defense, but Tuesday pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second degree felony. He could have been convicted of a first degree felony for shooting his ex father in law, Harvey Hand.

Hand was expecting a plea agreement.    " In a way I did, but we just wanted to get it over with and to move on and it's been hard on our family."

As are most domestic violence cases. This one involved a messy divorce,  children, and threats. Following a family Christmas Lawrence showed up at his ex wife's house at three in the morning. Her father grabbed a kitchen knife anticipating trouble. There was. He was later shot. Hand said,  " I appreciate the people of Nacogdoches and especially Memorial Hospital. I'm on the mend."

Hand came away from the ordeal with a keen awareness of domestic violence.    " Yes, definitely, definitely. It's a definite problem and we should never overlook any red flags that come up. Start early, "  said the quite spoken man. District attorney Stephanie Stephens agrees.    " I hope something like this will not only discourage potential offenders, but also encourage victims to come forward when they're a victim of domestic violence." The experience so affected Hand that he plans to become an advocate for victims of domestic violence. He encourages people, "not to set back when you see a situation that you might ought to step in or call."