A Laurel man who was found guilty of beating his girlfriend with a stick went to jail for Valentine’s Day — and the next several years.
John Henry Gammage, 42, was ordered to serve eight years in the full-time custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections after a Jones County jury found him guilty Thursday of domestic aggravated assault. The jury deliberated for about an hour before reaching its verdict. Gammage appeared to become angry and have words with his attorneys, Jeffrey Hall of Hattiesburg and Cruz Gray of Laurel, after the verdict.
Gammage was accused of beating his girlfriend, Charlotte Cooley, with a stick, breaking her hand and a thumb, and choking her at their residence in the 900 block of 12th Avenue in December 2017. Choking is an automatic felony, according to state statute. The victim later said that she wanted to drop the charges and tried to get back with Gammage, but the state pursued the matter.
“People do things in an emotional relationship that aren’t real smart,” Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette told the jury.
Gammage’s attorneys argued that their client’s girlfriend was trying to get money from the Attorney General’s crime victims’ compensation fund. She has a plate and screws in her hand and still doesn’t have full use of it, Bisnette said.
Bisnette noted that the victim was working and had since got another job after having to miss six months of work with her injuries.
“She hasn’t gotten a dime” from the fund, he said, and she’s not “a freeloader,” as portrayed by the defense, he said.
After the jury’s guilty verdict was announced, Gammage’s attorneys noted that their client had no previous felonies. He was facing up to 20 years in prison.
Judge Dal Williamson ordered Gammage to serve eight years in prison and two years post-release supervision.