Guilty Plea

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 20, 2009

Felon beat victim with ax handle, avoids life sentence with last-minute guilty plea

By Billy Davis

A Wisconsin felon has been sentenced as a habitual offender after pleading guilty to beating a man with an ax handle.

Barrett Lydell Hamilton, 33, received a 20-year sentence for aggravated assault as part of a plea agreement. He was sentenced Monday in Batesville by Circuit Judge Jimmy McClure.

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Authorities alleged that Hamilton, along with his brother Jason Towns and Kedric Hunt, attacked Michael Rudd at Rudd’s home on Curtis Road.

The trio accused Rudd of stealing Hamilton’s drugs from Towns’ home, but Rudd, interviewed by investigators at The Med, speculated that Towns and Hunt had stolen the drugs then fingered him.

Eyewitnesses said Hamilton was armed with the ax handle and Towns used a handgun, which he also pointed at a crowd of onlookers, according to court documents.

Authorities say Hunt also participated in the attack, kicking Rudd twice in the head, though some eyewitnesses said he stood at the car and watched the beating. 

Rudd was transferred from Tri-Lakes Medical Center to The Med in Memphis. He underwent reconstructive surgery to repair his face.

“He was beaten beyond recognition,” said Panola Chief Deputy Otis Griffin, who interviewed Rudd at Tri-Lakes.

In Rock County, Wisconsin, Hamilton has been convicted of armed robbery and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. He had also tried to escape from custody.

With those prior convictions, Hamilton would have faced a maximum life sentence under Mississippi law if jurors had returned a guilty verdict. A jury pool was dismissed Monday after Hamilton entered a guilty plea.

The plea agreement also dropped a conspiracy charge.

Hamilton was represented Monday by Oxford attorney Carnelia Fondren and public defender Clay Vanderburg.

Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale was set to present the state’s case against Hamilton.

Towns, also a habitual offender, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on November 30, 2007, just two months after the incident occurred and a month after a grand jury handed down an indictment.

Court records show Towns was convicted in Panola County for burglary of a building in 1999, and burglary of an automobile and grand larceny in 2003. 

Hunt’s case is pending.