Jury convicts man of lesser charge in strangulation case

A Rocky Face man was found not guilty of two counts of aggravated assault (family violence) but guilty of one count of battery (family violence), Public Defender Natalie Glaser said.

Glaser said in a press release that the jury returned their verdicts after almost two hours of deliberations following the one-day trial of Brandon Leblanc in Whitfield County Superior Court.

Leblanc was represented by Jana Dixon and PJ Hemmann of the Public Defender’s Office.

"Mr. Leblanc had been accused of strangling his wife twice and throwing her to the ground in August of last year," Glaser said in the press release. "Police were informed of this by a witness who called 911. Mr. Leblanc maintained that he had never strangled his wife at all, but had been holding her to try to get her to calm down after the two got into an argument."

"Dixon cross-examined Mr. Leblanc’s wife eliciting several responses that did not conform with her prior statements to investigators," Glaser said. "Hemmann cross-examined those investigators, detailing what was in their reports, and showing these discrepancies."

Glaser noted that Leblanc was convicted of a misdemeanor, "meaning that he could be sentenced to a year in jail, but avoided a potential 40-year prison sentence due to the good sense of the jury."

“The time it took for the jury to decide what they did shows how closely they paid attention to the evidence presented in the case,” Hemmann said. “This is why the jury is so important, and I appreciate them taking the time to get to the truth.”

District Attorney Bert Poston said, "All domestic violence cases are challenging, but it can be particularly difficult to convey to a jury how dangerous strangulation assault can be, how helpless the victim feels under that type of assault and how much of an escalation that is above other types of domestic assaults. The jury believed that the victim was assaulted but we failed to persuade them as to the more serious charge."

"As in every case we take to a jury, we appreciate their service and respect their verdict," Poston said. "We could not resolve criminal cases without citizens being willing to come in and serve as jurors."

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