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Assault defendant could face life in prison

Man accused of bashing, beating, dragging victim

POSTED: September 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Attorney Larry Duttweiler speaks for his client Hardy Joe Day during closing arguments Thursday. Day is charged with kidnapping with bodily injury, false imprisonment, aggravated battery and aggravated assault.

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A Hall County man faces the possibility of a mandatory sentence of life in prison as a jury continues to deliberate his case today.

Hardy Joe Day, 45, is charged with kidnapping with bodily injury, which carries an automatic life sentence upon conviction. Day is also charged with false imprisonment, aggravated battery and aggravated assault in connection with allegations that he held his ex-girlfriend at knife-point, beat her and dragged her by her hair on a dirt road.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for more than four hours Thursday before asking to be excused for the night. Jurors indicated in a note to Superior Court Judge Jason Deal that they had reached verdicts on the false imprisonment and aggravated battery charges but were deadlocked 10-2 on the kidnapping with bodily injury and aggravated assault charges.

According to court testimony, the incident unfolded after the couple left a South Hall trailer late on the night of July 13, 2007. The alleged victim, Angela McCawley, acknowledged using methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol that night. Day maintained he was sober.

McCawley told authorities that during a violent argument inside Day’s Chevy Blazer, Day repeatedly rammed her head into the dashboard and held a knife against her so forcefully that it left superficial puncture marks on her shoulders. She said she jumped or fell from the truck twice in an effort to escape him while he drove along Swansey Road, a dirt road off Hog Mountain Road, and that both times he dragged her back into his truck by her hair.

Jurors were shown photographs of bruising and severe lacerations to McCawley’s back, shoulders, head and backside that the prosecution said were consistent with being dragged.

Day denied harming her and said the injuries came from her jumping from his moving truck while in a drug-induced stupor. He was driving slowly, perhaps 10 or 15 miles per hour at the time, according to testimony.

A hysterical, partially clothed McCawley flagged down a truck driver on Interstate 85 near Commerce after Day’s truck ran out of gas. Authorities found Day in the woods sometime later.

McCawley recovered from her injuries, though she still bears some scars. Both she and Day testified during the trial.

Public defender Larry Duttweiler, in his closing argument to the jury, noted the initial 911 call that his client’s accuser made, in which she plainly stated "I jumped from the car twice."

"As bizarre as it is … that’s what happened," Duttweiler said. "Maybe being on three different drugs … will do that to a person."

The defense lawyer said that McCawley, just two days after being released from jail, was worried about her probation status.

"She said, ‘I’m scared, I need to play the victim here,’" Duttweiler said.

The jury should not ignore the woman’s drug use during the time she was injured, he said.

"The real question is through what mechanism did all this take place," Duttweiler said.

Duttweiler could not mention the potential prison sentence to the jury, saying only that the prosecutor "is going to ask you to bury him."

In her closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance noted that blood evidence taken from Day’s body was linked to McCawley.

"He had her blood on his hands, literally and figuratively," Vance said.

The prosecutor said medical and law enforcement witnesses for the state testified that the evidence matched the alleged victim’s account of what happened.

"(They) stated that the evidence is consistent with Angela’s story of being stabbed, beaten and dragged down a dirt road."

Vance said that while the woman made some bad choices, that didn’t absolve the defendant from responsibility.

"These people do live in a different world, not the same world as you and I," Vance told the jury. "But nobody deserves what happened to her."

"She is a victim of her own circumstances, and she is a victim of the defendant, Hardy Joe Day," Vance said.

The jury was scheduled to continue deliberations at 8 a.m. today.



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