St. Croix man gets 10 years in prison for attacking wife, daughter with machete


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ST. CROIX - In an incident that V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady described as an awful and senseless tragedy, he handed down a 10-year prison sentence to a 73-year-old man charged in the brutal 2009 machete slashing of his wife and daughter that maimed them both.

A very emotional George Herman stood beside his attorney, Ronald Russell, who asked the judge to show mercy on his client.

"It was a very sad event on Nov. 1, 2009, and he has complete remorse because he never intended to injure his daughter or his wife, who he loved and built a family with for 37 years," Russell said.

Russell said Herman realized the full gravity of his actions and said he does not know what purpose it will serve to send Herman to jail and quoted scriptures he said he discovered about vengeance and forgiveness.

As Russell spoke, Herman was overcome several times with emotion, burying his face in his hands, as his entire body trembled and he cried almost uncontrollably.

Russell said Herman did not intend to injure the women. During the trial, Herman testified that his daughter initially had the machete and attacked him with it, and that he was attempting to defend himself against her when he slashed the women.

Russell asked the court to sentence Herman to probation, saying that Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility is not suitable for a person like his client, who is elderly and has fragile health.

In a dramatic allocution during which he displayed the machete with the 24-inch blade, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Ponteen said he was disturbed by Russell's comments. If Herman was as nice and church-going and hardworking like everyone had thought, he would not have brought down the machete on the two women repeatedly in an attempt to kill them, Ponteen said.

"He is shedding tears now, but the real George Herman is the one who showed his face that day and the one who had subjected them to domestic violence perhaps for years," he said.

Ponteen said Herman already was given a break when he was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of third degree assault. Herman initially was charged with first-degree assault; mayhem; third-degree assault; and carrying or using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.

"He was already given a discount, now he wants more discounts or everything for free," Ponteen said. "His actions were nothing more than mean-spirited evilness, and he should be sentenced to the 10 years imprisonment that he owes this community."

Herman faced five years in prison on each of the two assault charges, compared with 60 years in prison if he was convicted on the original charges.

According to a probable cause fact sheet filed by V.I. Police Detective Gregory Charlery, Herman's daughter told police there was an argument, and Herman became enraged and picked up a 12-inch knife and threatened her with it, but her mother pushed him away.

She said Herman came at her again with the knife and swung it aggressively in her face, and she put her hand up to block her face and was cut, according to court documents.

According to Charlery, the daughter said she ran from the room for cover after she was cut, and Herman followed her, and grabbed the machete and swung at her. Herman hit her repeatedly, cutting off her thumb, then when she ran from the house, he struck her mother repeatedly with the machete, damaging both her hands.

Before imposing the sentence, Brady said there was nothing he could have thought of to explain Herman's actions. He said Herman's wife and daughter are damaged in such a way that their lives are changed forever.

"You swung at them again and again and again and again, and today I only hear pleas of mercy for you," he said. "This is certainly a tragedy where everyone loses."

Brady handed down a consecutive five year sentence for each of the assault convictions and ordered $12,000 restitution to the doctors and for other services.

He is allowing Herman to self-surrender to the Bureau of Corrections at 8 a.m. Monday.

Not pleased with the maximum sentence handed down, Herman had an outburst in the courtroom, saying that the women were liars.

He had to be ushered out of the courtroom and out of the courthouse by deputy marshals, collapsing and refusing to get up from the sidewalk for several minutes as they escorted him to the parking lot.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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