Persuaded by evidence that the crime may have been due to brain injuries, a judge has put a Powell man on probation for severely beating his wife in 2015.
“You don’t belong in prison,” Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Steven Cranfill told Greg Paris at a Thursday sentencing hearing. In imposing five years of supervised probation, Cranfill recognized the counseling and medical treatment Paris has received since the assault.
“Even though there may have been a reason for this, you could have killed your wife; thank God you didn’t,” Cranfill added, calling it a “serious, serious crime.”
Probation was also recommended by a state probation and parole agent who conducted a pre-sentence investigation.
Noting that Paris suffers from anxiety and impulse control disorders that are now being treated, defense attorney Robert DiLorenzo argued probation was “more than fair.”
“We know that these conditions are not a legal defense — we know that, that’s why we’re here — but we also know they are significant mitigating factors in this case,” DiLorenzo said.
Paris held his wife down, repeatedly punched her in the face and body and tried hitting her with a metal drum stand on March 15, 2015, according to information compiled by Park County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Hartman in charging documents. Paris reportedly told his wife he “might have to kill” her because he “wasn’t going back to prison,” charging documents say. When she left their home — where sheriff’s deputies would find a bloodied couch, carpet, shirt and drum stand — Paris reportedly followed her in his truck and tried to get her to pull over. She continued to the Powell Police Department, where she works as the community service officer, and one of her coworkers initially did not recognize her because of her injuries.
Over the objections of Paris’ wife, the Park County Attorney’s Office asked Cranfill to impose a four- to six-year prison sentence for the assault.
Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt said that from the accounts of family members and friends that were shared in court, it appears Paris is a good, kind-hearted person.
“But that doesn’t give him a pass to do what he did to his wife on the day in question,” Blatt said.
He submitted two photos of Paris’ wife’s swollen, injured face for Cranfill’s consideration.
“Those pictures don’t show an accidental punch or hit or someone who fell down; those pictures support a prolonged beating at the hands of Mr. Paris to Ms. Paris,” Blatt said.
Paris pleaded guilty to a felony count of aggravated assault at a hearing last summer, admitting he caused serious bodily injury to his wife.
“That was your intention?” Cranfill had asked Paris at that summer hearing.
“Frankly, I don’t recall my intention, but based on what the factual basis of what I did, I did cause bodily injury,” Paris responded.
Paris didn’t make a statement at last week’s sentencing; family members, friends and medical practitioners spoke on his behalf.
Anna Paris said she disagreed with her husband’s decision to plead guilty, saying she believes “our incident” was due to a brain tumor that doctors later discovered.
“I’ve been labeled a victim and my husband has been labeled a criminal, even in the face of facts to the contrary,” she said.
Greg Paris’ psychiatrist, Dr. Matthew Hopkins of Cody, said he believes the combination of six previous concussions and the tumor — which is pressing on a part of Paris’ brain that controls impulses and executive functions — were factors in the assault.
In the months leading up to the incident, Dr. Hopkins said Paris recalled that his control of his anger had “been a little diminished — and greatly diminished in this incident for which he was arrested.”
According to charging documents, the altercation began when Greg Paris got upset about being unable to access Netflix.
Both Anna Paris and Hopkins described the assault as an isolated event.
“... I totally believe that to be the case,” Hopkins said, also saying that Anna Paris does not fit the personality profile of a battered woman even “one tiny bit.”
“I’m well aware that incidents of physical harm are a serious offense,” Anna Paris said. “Unlike what some have concluded, this is not an ongoing chronic behavior displayed by Greg.”
She said newspaper accounts of the case have contained “lies” and she criticized the Park County Attorney’s Office for prosecuting her husband; Sgt. Hartman’s charging affidavit indicates that she was reluctant to cooperate with the Sheriff’s Office in the early stages of the investigation, too.
Anna Paris said the charges should have been dropped so her family could focus on Paris’ medical issues.
“This continued persecution has harmed me both emotionally and financially far more than anything I’ve experienced in my 50 years,” Anna Paris said.
Blatt, the prosecutor, said his job is to pursue justice on behalf of the people of the state of Wyoming — sometimes against the wishes of defendants, their families, law enforcement or victims. The argument that the prosecution was wrong to ask for Greg Paris to be punished “is nothing short of ridiculous,” he said in court.
Paris made bail a little more than a month after his March 2015 arrest and moved back in with his wife more than a year ago.
Paris’ bond was revoked and he spent a few more days in jail after he was pulled over in Powell in October and found to have been drinking (Paris was not supposed to consume alcohol while on bond).
Judge Cranfill said that arrest was part of the reason he suspended two to four years of prison time with the probation.
“That was clearly a mistake,” the judge told Paris, adding, “You still need a prison sentence hanging over your head … to say that you’ve got to continue with this treatment, you’ve got to continue with this medication.”
Cranfill also noted that Paris will be labeled as a felon for the rest of his life.
“I’m not leaving here thinking that you have not been punished,” Cranfill told Paris. “You have been.”
This is Paris’ third felony conviction, Blatt said; he said the other two were nonviolent and decades old.
Paris agreed to plead guilty to the count of aggravated assault as part of a deal that involved the county attorney’s office dismissing a second aggravated assault charge from the incident and agreeing to ask for no more than four to six years of prison time.
At one point, Paris pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency, but a state psychiatrist ultimately found him to be competent to face the charges.
Dr. Hopkins said Paris’ prognosis “is pretty good,” noting Paris now knows he’s more prone to “snapping” than he used to be.
“When he does get angry, he gets away from the situation,” Hopkins said.