A 35-year-old Cartersville resident was sentenced to 30 years on probation after entering a negotiated plea of guilty to two counts of aggravated assault in Bartow Superior Court Tuesday morning.
Johnny Wilson Brake also pleaded guilty to one count of family violence battery, one count of cruelty to children in the third degree and two counts of criminal trespass stemming from two separate incidents that occurred in Bartow County.
Cherokee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth York said the defendant first struck his wife in the face and choked her during an incident in August 2018.
“At that time, law enforcement was called out to the defendant’s residence,” York said. “The officer spoke with her along with some other individuals who were present and there was a child who was present as well … this altercation, she stated, had been verbal and escalated to an aggravated assault, strangulation.”
York said investigators documented bleeding on the victim’s face, as well as marks under her jaw and near her ears.
“The criminal trespass in that case involved, I believe, damaging a cell phone that she had,” York said. “They spoke to the child as well, who was able to describe having heard what was going on and witnessing it that way.”
Brake was released on a $13,500 property bond on Aug. 28, just two days after being booked into the Bartow County Jail.
“The next case happened on March 20, 2019,” York said. “There was initially an aggravated stalking count, as he was back at the marital residence of his wife. Based on the fact she allowed him back, we’ve agreed to dismiss the aggravating stalking.”
During this incident, York said a verbal argument yet again escalated into physical violence.
“He placed his arm around her neck in a choke hold,” York said. “The criminal trespass in this case involved damage to her vehicle — he had ripped the rearview mirror off.”
York said the defendant’s criminal history includes convictions for “a prior battery on detention staff back in 2001, a cruelty to children out of Florida, as well as aggravated battery and felony assault on a pregnant female back in 2008.”
Public defender Kelley Dial said she was provided with a 24-page report from Highland Rivers Health concerning the defendant’s mental and behavioral health. The results, she said, make the defendant and ideal candidate for an intensive treatment program (ITP.)
“The diagnosis certainly seems to be methamphetamine and amphetamine addiction, but also bipolar disorder with psychotic features and PTSD,” she said. “I feel like that’s certainly enough to qualify him for ITP. He qualifies for that probably more than any person I’ve met recently … he desperately wants treatment because that methamphetamine is just the root of all of this.”
Brake received a 20-year sentence, plus a $1,000 fine, for the one count of family violence aggravated assault stemming from the August 2018 offenses. He received concurrent 12-month sentences for one count of family battery violence, one count of criminal trespass and one count of cruelty to children in the third degree, which also includes an additional $500 fine. The March 2019 offenses resulted in a consecutive 10-year sentence for one count of aggravated assault, plus a $1,000 fine, and a 12-month concurrent sentence for one count of criminal trespass.
Cherokee Judicial Circuit Judge Suzanne H. Smith said that 30-year probation sentence is conditioned upon Brake entering and completing an ITP and following all subsequent aftercare requirements.
“Failure to do so will result in you being brought back before this court,” she said. “And the only other option I have is jail time for that.”
York said the State initially sought a 30-year sentence, with five years to serve in confinement, for Brake’s most recent offenses. York noted that the victim did not ask for a no-contact order against the defendant, although Judge Smith did order a “no violent contact” condition as part of Brake’s probation terms.
“Just to put it on the record, the State does obviously have some concerns where we’re at,” York said.
Brake will receive credit for time served dating back to March 22. He will remain in custody at the Bartow County Jail until ITP bed space becomes available.