Man sentenced to life in attack on former wife

He assaulted woman with a hammer in 2002

Carroll County

January 28, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County man convicted of attempting to murder his ex-wife with a hammer and then trying to run her and their daughter down with a car received a sentence of life in prison yesterday.

Anthony Thomas Hughes, 38, of Westminster was on parole for a robbery conviction when he assaulted Ellen M. Redifer with the claw end of a hammer outside her Westminster home on New Year's Eve 2002. Her injuries were so severe that she required months of physical therapy after spending 18 days at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Redifer carries a scar that spans the length of her upper torso.

Hughes also assaulted their 17-year-old daughter, her boyfriend and a neighbor who tried to intervene.

Tracy A. Gilmore, deputy state's attorney for Carroll County, told the court that Hughes deserved no less than a life sentence for the impact he's made on Redifer's life.

"She deserves to feel safe," Gilmore said. "This is about power, control and rage. ... He has left behind serious physical and emotional scars."

Redifer said in court that the experience left her unable to do her job and take care of her children. She has had to relearn how to use her hands, how to speak and how to not be afraid, she said.

"Don't give him an opportunity to hurt me again," she told the judge. "A life sentence is going to be the final protection I need so I can go on and achieve all that I was left on this earth to do."

Hughes, who spent most of the hearing yesterday afternoon with eyes downcast, turned tearfully to Redifer before he was sentenced.

"I don't want to get out of jail again. I don't want to hurt anybody again," he said. "Give Ellen what she wants. Give her the security she needs."

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. gave Hughes life in jail plus 70 years - to be served consecutively - on related assault charges, a decision he based on Hughes' prior record and the "horrendous nature of the offenses." Afterwards, Beck stepped down from the bench and embraced Redifer.

Redifer, 40, said she was relieved that an ordeal that took a year from her life was finally over. She said that today she would leave with her daughter to rejoin her family in upstate New York.

"Moving away from Maryland will help the healing," Redifer said.

Hughes and Redifer were married from 1983 to 1992 and had two children, court testimony from Hughes' plea hearing in July showed. Hughes was released from prison in 2000 after serving eight years of a 15-year sentence for armed robbery, according to court documents.

For years, Hughes and Redifer maintained an on-again, off-again relationship, but by Dec. 31, 2002, they were no longer together. Angry at Redifer's plans to spend the holiday with someone else, Hughes went to her Westminster duplex and broke down her bathroom door to confront her as she was taking a shower, court testimony showed. Their 18-year-old son broke up the fight.

Later that evening, Hughes returned and broke down the kitchen door. Holding a framing hammer - with an 18-inch handle and a 24- to 28-ounce metal head - he chased Redifer, their 17-year-old daughter and the girl's boyfriend into the street, court records show. Hughes caught Redifer, who pleaded with him to stop, but Hughes hit her on the nose with the blunt side of the hammer before turning the weapon around and hitting her repeatedly in the neck and chest with the claw end, court documents show.

Redifer's next-door neighbor, John P. Glover, ran to pull Hughes away from Redifer. As a result, Glover was hit in the side by the claw end of the hammer and cut on the back of the head with a box-cutter - an injury that required staples to repair, Gilmore said in court.

At yesterday's hearing Gilmore credited Glover with saving Redifer's life.

"Were it not for Mr. Glover, there would have been a homicide," she said.

After the attack, Hughes got in his car and tried to run down the four before fleeing, according to documents. He was apprehended in West Virginia early the next day. Hughes told police he had been drunk on 151-proof rum and did not remember the attack. Yesterday, Gilmore told the court that Redifer did not notice any odor of alcohol.

Hughes entered not-guilty pleas to all charges, but waived his right to a jury trial and agreed to allow prosecutors to present their version of events.

Beck found Hughes guilty of 25 counts, including attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, burglary and malicious destruction of property.

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