SMETHPORT — A Bradford man will serve 10 to 20 years in state prison after being convicted of all charges against him in an assault case.
Grant D. Lewis, 48, was sentenced Thursday in McKean County Court before President Judge John Pavlock. He has credit for 395 days of time served.
At a two-day jury trial on July 15-16, Lewis was found guilty on all counts: strangulation, a second-degree felony; aggravated assault, a first-degree felony; two counts of simple assault, second-degree misdemeanors; and two counts of summary harassment.
Court records filed at the time of his arrest last year alleged that Lewis hit a woman in the face several times; When she tried to leave, he pushed her to the floor, began choking her and pushing her nose, then kicked her in the side of the head and ribs.
At Bradford Regional Medical Center, medical professionals found that among her injuries was a right orbital floor fracture in her skull, court records stated. She was transported to the Hamot Medical Center trauma unit for facial surgery to stabilize her fracture.
Public Defender Philip Clabaugh — who represented Lewis — and District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburgh-Shaffer disagreed on whether Lewis should be sentenced as though this were a second crime of violence.
The mandatory sentence in Pennsylvania when someone is convicted of a second crime of violence is 10 to 20 years.
Ultimately, Pavlock sided with Shaffer on the issue.
Shaffer described Lewis’s previous crime of violence conviction, in which he was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison for a robbery. She explained that Lewis in concert with others pointed a firearm at someone’s head, threatened to kill the person and demanded money.
Lewis read to Pavlock a three-page letter he wrote providing background on his life.
He started by saying he discovered a passion for writing novels while he was in jail, but this letter was the most important document he’ll ever write.
“My very life depends on the outcome of what I say here,” Lewis said.
He was adopted at age 5 by a teacher, who died when he was only 13. He joined the U.S. Navy after high school, serving in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
“I was there when the first bombs fell,” he stated.
Lewis said he first bought a pistol to protect his wife and young children. He asserted that the robbery occurred because he got a phone call in the middle of the night from a friend saying he was robbed, and he, the friend and a relative of the friend went to retaliate. He was 22 when he was sentenced for the robbery.
After prison, he moved to Turtlepoint with a friend from his halfway house.
“I was and am a law-abiding citizen, said Lewis, who added that he had borderline personality disorder and PTSD.
He attributed the assault case for he was just sentenced to a “toxic relationship.”
After hearing the letter, Pavlock said, “You seem brighter to me than what I heard in the trial,” though he noted that bright, well-spoken people get in trouble all the time — and discovering his talents doesn’t mean he’s “beat his demons.”
Pavlock added that some of the defense’s assertions at trial — such as one that he grabbed her by her hair only to prevent her from falling — didn’t make sense.
Pavlock also denied a request to grant bail for Lewis pending an appeal due to the length of the sentence. However, he noted that Lewis has appeared for all his court dates.