Antone Lemont Hamlett will have more than two decades to think about his bad decisions made in November 2017, when he attacked his wife with a knife and abducted her.
Judge Kimberley S. White sentenced Hamlett to 26 years in prison for 10 charges associated with the incident on Thursday in Halifax County Circuit Court.
The victim in the case, Susan Yeatts Hamlett, suffered wounds so severe, she almost died due to loss of blood before receiving medical treatment.
“Only by the grace of God and her sheer force of will did she survive,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin after the February bench trial when White convicted Antone Hamlett of the charges, including one for attempted murder.
White sentenced Hamlett, a 36-year-old South Boston man, to a total effective prison term of 25 years and 12 months, including 10 years with five suspended for attempted murder; and to 20 years each with 15 each suspended for two counts of aggravated malicious wounding.
White sentenced Hamlett to 10 years each, with five each suspended for two counts of abduction; and to 12 months in jail for stalking of a family member.
White sentenced the defendant to a 12-month suspended jail term for assault and battery, a 20-year suspended term for armed burglary with intent to commit murder, and six-month suspended terms for destruction of personal property and damaging a phone line to prevent a summons to E-911.
The court heard key testimony from the victim in the case on Thursday with Susan Hamlett saying she carries both physical and mental scars as a result of the Nov. 14, 2017 incident, including both hurt and anger.
Antone Hamlett attacked his estranged wife after he broke into her home on Nov. 14, 2017, and he then led her into nearby woods and into a field where he stabbed her in the abdomen when she cried for help, according to prosecution evidence presented at trial.
When the defendant tried to stab his wife a second time, she grabbed the knife and received a severe laceration to her hand, according to the prosecution, suffering significant blood loss from her wounds.
Prosecutor Anna Bowen told the court Thursday the victim had the strength, courage and willpower to run to a nearby highway where a Pittsylvania County deputy stopped to help.
Bowen told the court the defendant almost lost her thumb and nearly lost her life as a result of blood loss and when she fought her attacker.
Antone Hamlett eluded capture by authorities for several months before he was arrested on Feb. 4, 2018 at the Hilltop Motel in South Boston.
The man who attacked her didn’t resemble the man she married, at that time, according to Susan Hamlett, who first met the defendant in high school before later becoming romantically involved.
Her husband had a nice smile and was very kind-hearted, becoming a father figure and friend to their children, both boys, Susan Hamlett recalled.
Defense attorney Michael McPheeters pointed to testimony from Antone Hamlett’s friends that indicated, in the words of one, “He was an awesome guy who made some stupid decisions.”
McPheeters noted Susan Hamlett’s testimony that indicated she was conflicted in the sentence Antone Hamlett deserves.
He called for a sentence on the lower end of the guidelines allowing “Hamlett to have an opportunity to be re-united with his family and show people he wasn’t the person who committed the offenses.”
Both boys testified Thursday, with one son describing his father as being “fun and outgoing,” and the other describing his father as someone who would do things with his boys such as take them camping.
Bowen told the court there was another side to Antone Hamlett, who had been convicted of a number of offenses in previous years, most notably one for the unlawful wounding of another partner, in addition to breaking and entering, petty larceny and driving on a suspended operator’s license.
Bowen pointed to the defendant’s past record and the severity of his attack on his estranged wife as sufficient for a lengthy prison term.
Bowen suggested to White that a life sentence for the defendant may be appropriate, and she also told the court his substance abuse issues needed to be addressed, noting he was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol the day he committed the offenses.
The ordeal took hours, and the “buzz” should have gone away in time for the defendant to realize what he was doing.
“The mental and physical anguish he put her through is unacceptable,” Bowen told the court, while noting the bravery, drive and purpose of the victim in escaping her captor.
“At the same time, she wants what’s best for Mr. Hamlett,” said Bowen.
Before pronouncing her sentence, White told the court what Antone Hamlett put his wife through is “truly a nightmare.”
“We’re lucky this isn’t a murder case,” White told the defendant.
White pointed to prosecution evidence indicating the defendant tried to cauterize his wife’s stab wounds in order to stem the bleeding and continue her suffering.
“I don’t know what was going on with you. It was reprehensible. You drove her around while she was bleeding, and she begged you to let her live,” continued White. “You intended for her to die.”