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Elder abuse suspect has 7 probation violations

Sister of defendant wants man to serve ‘real time’

POSTED: January 4, 2009 12:12 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

This house at 2240 East Drive in Gainesville is where Douglas James Holland, 49, allegedly stomped on his mother's leg in a drunken rage, breaking her foot and ankle, then left her to lie in the floor unattended for two days.

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The last time James Douglas Holland faced a judge, he used the mother he was charged with beating twice before as an excuse.

Holland, 49, appears in court this week on charges of elder abuse and family violence aggravated battery, accused of stomping his 68-year-old mother while wearing work boots, then leaving her lying with a broken foot and ankle in the floor of her Gainesville home for two days without food or water. A probation revocation warrant was issued against Holland on Wednesday, the eighth time he has been called into court for allegedly violating the terms of a 2002 probated sentence.

"He’s been in and out of jail so much, I don’t
understand why he hasn’t done some real time," said Holland’s sister, Eloise Holland. "He should be seriously punished for this."

Eloise Holland said her mother was found helpless inside her East Drive home Dec. 16 by two of her daughters. Bertha Holland eventually disclosed what happened to her after she was taken to a hospital, her daughter said.

The alleged beating follows a cycle of violence, according to the victim’s daughter.

"It’s been going on for years," she said.

Court records document Douglas Holland’s lengthy criminal history, which includes numerous revocation hearings before several superior court judges.

Holland was charged with beating his mother at least twice before. In August 2004 he faced battery charges for allegedly punching her in the stomach. In July 2005, he was charged with causing visible injury by hitting her in the face with a broomstick. The 2005 charge was dismissed after an unspecified witness failed to show up for court, according to court records.

Holland has had to appear for probation revocation hearings for each new charge, as well as for failure to comply with terms of probation that included paying fees and attending anger management courses.

The probation stems from a 2002 aggravated battery case, when Holland pleaded guilty to cutting his brother Johnny on the arm with a knife, causing a wound that required more than 25 stitches. Holland got a 10-year probated sentence on the charge.

Since June 2003, he has gone before a judge seven times for violating the probation, most recently in May, when a judge revoked 12 months of the remaining four years. Holland was allowed to serve his time in a work release program and was released in November because of "good time" policies common in county jails that give inmates credit for early release.

Holland admitted to Senior Superior Court Judge John Girardeau during last year’s revocation hearing that he was at his mother’s house on East Drive in violation of the terms of his probation. Holland had been ordered to stay away from the address because he cut his brother a second time there in April 2007, eventually pleading guilty to a reduced charge of battery.

Holland told the judge he was caring for his bedridden mother, who had undergone open heart surgery.

"She did not have nobody to take care of her, to give her medication and stuff," Holland told the judge, according to a court transcript of the hearing. "That’s the only reason I was there, sir,"

Arrest warrants taken out by Hall County Sheriff’s officials Dec. 16 allege that Holland abused and neglected his mother at the same address "by failing to obtain emergency assistance for her after injuring her in the floor and leaving her without food, essentials and assistance for two days."

Holland’s attorneys with the Northeastern Circuit Public Defender Office declined to discuss his case.

Holland’s probation officer, Larry Williams, did not return a message seeking comment. Hall County’s chief probation officer, Kim O’Neil, referred questions to a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman who was out of the office this week.

Holland’s sister said she’s frustrated that her brother hasn’t spent more time behind bars.

"I just can’t understand how the system keeps putting him out on the street," she said.

Holland remains in Hall County Jail following his most recent arrest. District Attorney Lee Darragh, who called Holland’s multiple probation revocations "problematic" said his office would seek a "very significant sentence" if the latest allegations are proven in court.

In seven probation revocations hearings held since 2003, Holland has seen a total of nearly four years of his 10-year sentence revoked, though much of that time was reduced for good behavior while in jail. Local attorneys say that is not unusual.

In cases involving "technical violations" such as failing to attend mandated courses, or in cases of new misdemeanor charges, rarely does a judge revoke the balance of a probated sentence. Judges may only revoke up to two years on technical probation violations.

According to the transcript from Holland’s last revocation hearing, Girardeau, after hearing Holland say he was caring for an ill mother and had found a job, showed mercy on him, allowing him to serve 12 months in work release.

The judge told Holland then, "You haven’t been doing a very good job following the terms of your probation, and it’s just continued on through six revocations. Looks like not a real good candidate for probation."



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