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Man sentenced to 3 years in brutal domestic violence case

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Matthew Foxworthy, 24, was sentenced Monday to five years in prison, with another 10 suspended, for the June 2012 assault on his then-girlfriend.

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Testimony and tears filled the three-hour hearing, during which Foxworthy’s side pled mercy for an attack that left a young woman with such injury that she was unrecognizable to her family. Foxworthy said he would improve with treatment, but Southwest District Judge Zane Anderson said he didn’t trust Foxworthy to complete his treatment without being locked up.

Foxworthy will get credit for the year-and-a-half he has served at the Southwest Multi-County Correctional Center. He pled guilty earlier this year to the two separate aggravated assault charges, the second being for assaulting a man that tried to defend victim Brenna Fahey.

She and her mother both testified in favor of a tough sentence.

Karen Fahey testified on the extent of emotional damage to the entire family. She said she was devastated to hear what happened to her daughter when she got the 3:30 a.m. phone call, and that it has traumatized their entire family.

“It’s like having your heart bruised over and over again,” she said.

Brenna Fahey testified that she and Foxworthy dated four years, some of it on-and-off, and that she learned of his past abuse within the first year.

For the final two years of their relationship, they lived together and Foxworthy would abuse her, tending to be especially brutal when he drank, Fahey said.

“When I moved to live with him in North Dakota, it was a fight for my life,” she said.

Fahey said she didn’t report the past incidents to police — a sticking point for the defense, who repeatedly pointed out there’s no evidence of it — because she wanted to protect him and was made to feel guilty.

“I was scared and I was young and I was in love,” she said.

A victim of child abuse himself, Foxworthy was an alcoholic and suffered several mental illnesses that contributed to the incident, according to testimony. His lawyer, Michael Hoffman, asked Anderson for probation so Foxworthy could heal outside of prison.

Referencing Foxworthy’s childhood, Hoffman called the case one where abuse has beget abuse.

“I see that as a lawyer, you see that as a judge,” he said to Anderson.

“Enough jail — it’s time to treat the man.”

But Anderson said he did not trust Foxworthy to comply with substance abuse and mental health treatment if he were a free man.

“I am not confident that (treatment) can be done and public safety can be ensured … in a supervised setting as contrasted with a secure setting,” Anderson said.

The night of June 14, 2012, Foxworthy assaulted Fahey after a night out with another friend. They had all been drinking, but Foxworthy to a greater extent — he’d consumed half of a 1.75-liter bottle of Jagermeister in a short time.

In her testimony, Fahey described her physical injuries from the incident — she has since had three surgeries — and the emotional trauma she still endures.

Foxworthy strangled Fahey until she was unconscious and broke her jaw in two places.

When Foxworthy was brought into jail that night, he didn’t know why he was there, according to testimony from a jail nurse and a jail mental health professional. When a Dickinson police officer explained what he did and showed him pictures of Fahey’s injuries, Foxworthy became suicidal, they said.

Hoffman used this as evidence that Foxworthy was remorseful about the incident. When given the opportunity Monday, Foxworthy tearfully apologized to the Fahey family.

Multiple defense witnesses said Foxworthy said he did not know what he was doing during the attack, as he was in an alcohol-induced blackout.

State’s attorney Rhonda Ehlis said Foxworthy’s conduct would reoccur if he doesn’t face strong consequences, and said the alcohol, child abuse and other factors listed by the defense were excuses. She had requested 6-and-a-half years for the immediate sentence.

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