Man, 32, gets life term in beating and stabbing of former girlfriend

Arbutus woman credits daughter's calm 911 call for saving her life

Metro

News from around the Baltimore region

April 28, 2005|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A 32-year-old Baltimore County man was sentenced to life in prison yesterday in the beating and stabbing of his former girlfriend, who credits her young daughter with saving her life.

The girl, now 10, is to receive a bar association award for calling 911 after her mother was attacked in July and for her poised testimony at trial this year.

Michael William Hall, who lived in the Lansdowne area of the county, received the maximum sentence on his conviction of attempted first-degree murder. Hall was convicted by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger Sr. during a February bench trial.

Hall's former girlfriend, Kari Nelson, now 30, was stabbed in the neck and groin area during the assault at her Arbutus home. She was beaten so severely that her lip was split and her eyes were swollen shut, said prosecutor Stephen Roscher.

Nelson's three children, who were home, could hear Hall beating their mother, Roscher said. Nelson's daughter, Katlyn, called 911, alternately conveying the severity of the situation to a dispatcher and comforting her mother, said Roscher.

"She wasn't murdered by the grace of God," Roscher said during the hearing. "It wasn't because [Hall] didn't try to kill her."

Several of Hall's relatives and friends testified yesterday, saying the assault was uncharacteristic for a man they described as loving and kind. They said Hall, who had planned to start a carpentry business, was being treated by a psychologist.

Defense attorney Craig M. Gendler said Hall had been diagnosed as bipolar and suffered from drug and alcohol dependencies. Despite the graphic evidence presented during the trial, Gendler said, "There's a very different side to Mr. Hall. ... This is not a monster, your honor."

Hall - who, according to Roscher, had been on probation on a drug charge, and previously had been on probation for theft and battery - spoke briefly during the hearing. "There's not a moment that goes by that I don't think about the impact on Kari ... her kids, and my family," he said.

Nelson said during yesterday's hearing that her children still do not like her to leave the house. After sentencing, she said, "I think we can all feel a little safer now."

She said it was because her daughter called 911 that she is alive at all.

"She's just been unbelievable," Nelson said. "She's a big hero."

Katlyn Nelson is to receive the Baltimore County Bar Association's first citizenship award next week. Her "amazing calm" during the 911 call and in assisting her mother, along with her courage on the witness stand, prompted the association to recognize her, said Philip Tirabassi, the association's Law Day committee chairman.

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