Guilty plea 1st under statute

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013


David Bradley Godwin Tuesday became the first man sentenced in Covington County under a relatively new domestic violence statute.

Godwin pleaded guilty to domestic violence by strangulation in front of Circuit Judge Lex Short Tuesday.

The strangulation statute, which provides for the prosecution of a person who commits domestic violence against his or her victim in the form of strangulation or suffocation, went into effect on Sept. 1, 2011.

Listed in Section 13A-6-138 in the Code of Alabama, the statute states a person commits the crime of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation if the person commits an assault with intent to cause physical harm by strangulation or suffocation or attempted strangulation or suffocation against a person with whom the defendant has a qualified familial or dating relationship. It lists the crime as a Class B felony.

District Attorney Walt Merrell called the plea a landmark for Covington County.

“Women have suffered too long at the hands of abusive men, and until the passage of this law, they suffered at the hands of a legal system that failed them due to this loophole,” he said. “No more. Women deserve equal rights under the law and we are going to give them equal protection in the courtroom.”

Godwin received a 20-year split sentence which requires him to serve five years with the remaining 15 on probation. The sentence runs concurrently with a previous sentence.

John Peek represented Godwin.

Peek said Judge Short asked him during the hearing if he concurred with his client’s plea.

“I told him, ‘My client has considered his options and determined he wants to plead guilty,’ ” Peek said.

Peek said there were disputed facts in the case. However, Godwin was on probation, and there was adequate evidence to revoke his probation, which was done.