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Gainesville man sentenced to life in prison for March murder of girlfriend
Donnie Irvin

A Gainesville man pleaded guilty Monday to beating and strangling his live-in girlfriend in March.

Donnie Jackson Irvin, 53, was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for the death of Mary Tonya Ward, 42, on March 18.

“Mr. Irvin told me over six months ago, at our very first meeting, that he wanted to take full responsibility,” defense attorney Larry Duttweiler wrote in an email. “It then became my duty to take some amount of time to evaluate the evidence and explore all of his options.”  

Irvin was charged in a March indictment with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault.

According to the indictment, Irvin was accused of seriously disfiguring Ward’s face by beating her with a stool and DVD player.

“This was a settlement that everyone was equally (unhappy) with since he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison and no one will get any good answers as to why this tragic event happened,” Duttweiler said.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a domestic violence call around 8:30 p.m. March 18 at a Dean Street home. Authorities said Ward was dead inside the home upon arrival.

Irvin was sentenced to life in prison for malice murder and 20 years to serve on the aggravated battery charge, according to court documents.