A 54-year-old Massachusetts man found guilty of six charges in Bartow Superior Court last summer received two life sentences Tuesday afternoon — plus 20 years to serve in prison.
Jurors found Donald Scott Wiswall guilty last year of two counts of aggravated sexual battery, one count of sexual battery, one count of aggravated assault, one count of battery and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony on June 20, 2018.
When it came time for the verdict to be read, however, Wiswall was a no-show.
“The jury sent us out a question, and at that point, we started looking for Mr. Wiswall,” said Georgia Superior Court Senior Judge Richard Sutton. “We didn’t find Mr. Wiswall, because it turns out he was on his way to Massachusetts.”
During Tuesday’s sentencing — which was supposed to take place on July 10, 2018 — Wiswall said he was remorseful for skipping the remainder of the trial. “I reacted instead of thinking, and I apologize for that,” he said.
To which Judge Sutton responded, “apparently, you didn’t hide yourself too well when you got up there.”
Per a bill of indictment, Wiswall sexually penetrated a then-20-year-old female victim with his fingers on or about July 30, 2015. According to the victim’s testimony, he brandished a 9 millimeter semiautomatic pistol during the crime, additionally threatening to shoot both her and her sleeping boyfriend at Cartersville’s Avonlea Highlands apartment complex.
The victim called police after Wiswall, who had consumed a large amount of alcohol the night before, appeared to pass out. The victim said Wiswall also punched her in the face and appeared to have dismantled several security alarms throughout the apartment.
Sutton described the details of Wiswall’s crimes as “a traumatic set of circumstances.”
“The circumstances, even though you deny some of them, were really haunting in this case,” he said. “And when I say that, I say it specifically about an apparent effort to destroy security systems and stuff like that, which indicates to me that something else could’ve come down, a whole lot worse than what it did, to tell you the truth, had you not passed out there.”
Sutton sentenced Wiswall to life to serve on one count of aggravated sexual battery, with a concurrent life to serve sentence on a second count of aggravated sexual battery.
Wiswall additionally received a consecutive 20 years to serve sentence for one count of aggravated assault. Concurrent with that sentence is a five-year probation sentence for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and two 12-month sentences for one count of sexual battery and one count of battery, respectively.
Wiswall’s attorney, Karen Pass, said that although her client has an extensive rap sheet of crimes like thefts and break-ins, none of his previous arrests were for sexual offenses.
“Mr. Wiswall does have a long history, however, in all of his previous cases he entered a plea,” she said. “He still maintains his innocence.”
Should Wiswall ever be released from custody, he is subject to a lengthy set of sex offender probation conditions.
“This was an extremely traumatic event, very telling for, I think, everyone involved in the facts and how serious they were,” said Cherokee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth York. “The victim is not present today. She wanted us to relay that she wants a no-contact [order], and having listened to her testimony, the court is aware of how this has affected her life as she has moved forward, in all aspects.”
Wiswall told Sutton he will seek an appeal and would like a new trial. Pass said she would file an appeal for the defendant, but would not represent him in any subsequent court proceedings.