Jason Keith Hansard, 38, could've been sentenced to mandatory life without parole had case gone to jury trial

Cartersville man sentenced to 40 years for 2016 assault

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Cherokee Judicial Circuit Judge David K. Smith sentenced a Cartersville man to 40 years for his role in a 2016 assault in Bartow Superior Court Monday morning.

Jason Keith Hansard, 38, will serve the first 17 years of the sentence in confinement, with the remainder to be served on probation. He will receive credit for time served dating back to April 2016.

A grand jury indicted Hansard on 15 charges, including three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of false imprisonment, three counts of terroristic threats, three counts of possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, one count of home invasion, one count of kidnapping and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. 

Prosecutors, however, dropped the home invasion and kidnapping charges as part of Hansard's non-negotiated guilty plea.

Hansard must also pay $4,000 in fines for possessing weapons during the commission of a felony.

According to a bill of indictment, Hansard assaulted and threatened to kill Edwin Willard at his home in Cartersville on April 26, 2016. He also threatened the life of another individual, Kathryn Willard, and held both of them against their will within their own residence.

After being locked out of their house, Hansard entered the home of Paul Bennett at 82 Bennett-Kimbral Road and assaulted him. At one point, Hansard put a knife to the victim's neck and placed a .38 caliber firearm inside his mouth. 

Hansard's attorney, Edward Dettmar, said his client could've been sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for his crimes.

Prosecutors said the sentencing could've been even harsher. If Hansard had gone to trial and been found guilty, under Georgia's recidivist sentencing statute he could have ended up with two mandatory life-without-parole sentences.

Hansard has a long criminal history. Among other charges, prosecutors said he was convicted of methamphetamine possession in 2002, theft by receiving in 2009, three counts of entering an auto in 2010, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer in 2011 (an incident that led to Hansard being shot four times by deputies) and fraud and financial transaction card theft in 2013. 

Dettmar described his client as a bright but troubled man whose actions were the result of depression, substance abuse and trauma.

"I think Mr. Hansard is a very interesting individual," he said. "Those mental health conditions were exacerbated by his self-medication."

Hansard, who said he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, told Judge Smith his recollections of the incident were hazy.

"I remember very differently some things that happened that day," he said. "I do ask for mercy."

Smith said the state had already shown Hansard mercy by dropping the kidnapping and home invasion charges against him.

Hansard was ordered to obtain both a clinical substance abuse and mental health evaluation. Upon his release from prison, he has been recommended for placement at a transitional center.