Man sentenced for abusing woman, putting gun to her head & threatening to kill her

Crime Watch

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Trenton Harris (right) stading next to his attorney, James Pendlebury. | Natalia Hepworth,

REXBURG — A Menan man was sentenced Wednesday for pointing a gun at his girlfriend and threatening to kill her and her one-year-old son in March.

Trenton Harris, 24, was given a total term of five years in prison, with two fixed and three indeterminate on one felony count of aggravated assault. District Judge Stevan Thompson also sentenced Harris to serve 180 days in jail for a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. The sentences will run concurrently.

Harris’ prison term was suspended and he was ordered to serve five years of probation along with 180 days in jail with work-release. He was given credit for recently serving some 90 days in a work-release program.

Harris was originally charged with four felonies along with two weapons enhancements. As part of a plea agreement, two charges were dropped and one felony was lowered to a misdemeanor in exchange for his pleading to the other charge.

Court documents show during the March 9 incident, the victim called 911 after Harris stormed into her bedroom, grabbed her by the throat and proceeded to punch her in the head. The victim told police Harris then pulled out a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver and put it up to her head, threatening to kill her.

Soon after, he pointed the weapon at the victim’s 1-year-old son and said, “I should just kill you too – you little bastard. You’re probably not even mine.”

This all happened while Harris was intoxicated.

During the sentencing hearing, the victim said Harris has “suffered enough” and asked Thompson to release him from jail because it has been “hard for the kids.”

“Cases like this are always very troubling to the court,” Thompson said.

Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Sid Brown recommended Harris serve a suspended 2-5 years in prison, along with jail time, work release and two years probation.

He also recommended Harris receive some kind of domestic violence treatment and that he pay restitution and any fines.

The judge ordered Harris to receive outpatient treatment, psychological treatment and counseling along with requiring an anger management course.

James Pendlebury, Harris’ attorney, recommended an underlying sentence of 1-4 years in prison, but that Harris be put on probation and receive outpatient and substance abuse treatment.

“How much more good is it going to do to keep him incarcerated?” Pendlebury said in court.

After reading over Harris’ pre-sentence report and other evaluations, Thompson said, “This has frankly left me with a lot of anger as I was initially reading it…The fact that there was a gun involved in this situation (and) how that gun was used. The fact that it was loaded. I know your response to that was to act surprised that it was loaded but I just don’t quite buy that.”

Thompson continued by saying that the incident was not isolated as similar situations have happened over the past few years. He said Harris has punched the victim in the past and pushed her out of a vehicle causing her injuries.

Judge Thompson said he’s lead to believe that Harris is almost wired to react in a violent manner, “and that’s a big concern to the court.”

“This gun was actually placed up against her head and pointed at her head with threats of killing her… It’s a pretty aggravating situation. Picking up the one-year-old by the collar threatening to kill the one-year-old while you had the gun in your hand, being under the influence of alcohol while all this is going on.”

Harris did speak during the sentencing, apologizing to the court, the victim and his children.

“I’m ready to move on but I’d like a chance at probation and I’m ready to commit and do the right thing,” Harris said.

Thompson said he was justified in sending Harris to prison but part of the reason he continued with the sentencing was because of the victim’s request.