Crawford pleads guilty

A man scheduled to go on trial in Fort Dodge Tuesday for attempting to murder his ex-wife instead pleaded guilty to two felony assault charges in an agreement with prosecutors.

Larry D. Crawford, 44, of Fort Dodge, admitted hitting Jolene Crawford in their home at 339 Loomis Ave. on March 2. He pleaded guilty to one count of domestic abuse/assault causing bodily injury, third or subsequent offense as a habitual offender, and one count of assault causing serious injury as a habitual offender.

In Webster County District Court Tuesday, Crawford admitted to twice assaulting Jolene Crawford, with whom he was living at the time. The prosecution and defense jointly recommended that Crawford – who faces up to 15 years in prison per charge – would serve the sentences consecutively, meaning he could be imprisoned for up to 30 years. At minimum, he must serve three years on each of the assaults, consecutively, before he would be eligible for parole.

Had he been found guilty of attempted murder, Crawford would have been facing up to 25 years in prison with a 17-and-a-half year mandatory minimum sentence. The trial was scheduled to be heard only in front of a judge; Crawford had previously waived his right to a jury trial.

He told the court he had first assaulted Jolene Crawford in the bathroom.

“I hit her … in the face,” Crawford told District Court Chief Judge Kurt Wilke, of the 2nd Judicial District. “She had a small laceration on her forehead.”

Under questioning from Wilke, Larry Crawford also admitted he assaulted Jolene Crawford in the bedroom.

“I hit her again one time and then she fell to the floor,” he said, adding he couldn’t remember if he hit his ex-wife in the head, but admitted that he could have.

He also said he didn’t realize how seriously she had been hurt.

“I thought she might have fainted, as crazy as it sounds,” Crawford said. “I kept telling her to get up.”

Jolene Crawford remained on the floor of the apartment for “at most an hour” before police were finally called. Larry Crawford said it was Jolene Crawford’s mother who called police.

Webster County Attorney Cori Kuhn Coleman told the court that Jolene Crawford sustained a traumatic brain injury.

“She is unable to speak as a result of that assault … and she is unable to sit or stand on her own,” Coleman said.

She added that Jolene Crawford is now recovering at the Harmony House Health Care Center in Waterloo.

“There was a small amount of blood in the bathroom due to the first assault,” Coleman said. “If we’d gone to trial, the evidence we had would establish that law enforcement would have seen a significant amount of blood in the second assault.”

Wilke accepted Crawford’s guilty plea and scheduled sentencing for Nov. 4. Should Crawford change his mind about the plea agreement, he can still file a motion for arrested judgment, within five days of his scheduled sentencing, and choose to stand trial.

Both Coleman and Crawford’s attorney, Charles Kenville, declined to comment on the plea hearing.

The prosecution was assisted by Iowa Assistant Attorney General Laura Roan.