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Man gets 9½ years for beating pregnant girlfriend

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A Columbus man who beat his pregnant girlfriend repeatedly during a 26-hour period and made threats to kill her and her 7-year-old son has been sentenced to 9½ years in prison.

Daniel S. Leonard’s conviction on four felony charges stemmed from incidents that happened in December 2011. The case included witness accounts by city residents who reported that a man was hurting a woman inside a car and driving recklessly through Columbus.

Bartholomew Circuit Judge Stephen Heimann accepted guilty pleas Feb. 12 and entered judgments of conviction for:

  • Battery resulting in bodily injury to a pregnant woman, a Class C felony
  • Criminal confinement, a Class C felony
  • Domestic battery, a Class D felony
  • Theft, a Class D felony

Leonard, 28, 352 S. Cherry St., was sentenced to seven years in prison for battery resulting in bodily injury to a pregnant woman, according to the sentencing order. He also received sentences of 2½ years each for domestic battery and theft, to be served at the same time.

The criminal confinement conviction was merged with the battery conviction, according to the sentencing order, and Leonard received credit for 400 days in jail toward the theft conviction.

Heimann wrote in the sentencing order that Leonard’s criminal history, repeated probation violations and the nature and circumstances of the crimes outweighed factors that could have reduced his sentences. Heimann also said treatment outside prison has not been effective for Leonard.

According to an affidavit by former Columbus Police Department Patrolman James Myers, Leonard’s girlfriend described the following events that started about 12:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 2011, and escalated the following day, not concluding until after 2:30 p.m. It took police a month to arrest Leonard.

She said Leonard had been her boyfriend for about five years, and they had been living with his parents at 352 S. Cherry St. She had learned about eight weeks prior that she was pregnant with his child and was 10 or 11 weeks into the pregnancy. During their time together, she said, police had been called on numerous occasions because of physical violence caused by Leonard.

The woman told Myers that when she returned home with her son from his school Dec. 8, Leonard was upset and began threatening her. The woman said she told Leonard that she was leaving and told Myers that she had been considering such a step for three weeks.

From that moment until they fell asleep at the home of Leonard’s aunt that night, the woman said her boyfriend:

  • Struck her at least twice.
  • Grabbed her son’s leg as she tried to remove him from her car.
  • Shoved her against a bunk bed, causing her to hit her head.
  • Held a pocket knife to her throat and threatened to kill her.

Leonard, his girlfriend and her son left his aunt’s home about 2:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Leonard was driving her car when the woman said he became upset because he was unable to find his phone. When Leonard began swearing at her, she turned away.

After that, a chain of events ensued, including:

  • Leonard striking the woman at least four times. The woman said she noticed one time her hand was covered in blood when she held it to her mouth.
  • Leonard grabbing his girlfriend by the throat.
  • Multiple threats by Leonard to kill his girlfriend and her son.
  • Leonard, and later his girlfriend, driving recklessly in different parts of the city. The woman said she intentionally drove in the wrong lanes of State Street to attract attention.
  • Leonard punching his girlfriend in the stomach when she begged him to let her go.

The incident ended when Leonard drove the car onto Mapleton Street and eventually into an alley behind Hege Street. As the woman screamed for help, a man jumped over the fence, causing Leonard to get out of the vehicle and run away.

Calls from emergency dispatchers and information from eyewitnesses helped Myers follow the trail of the vehicle eventually to behind a house in the 300 block of South Hege Street.

When Myers reached the car, he saw a young child running around outside the vehicle, he said. The woman’s mouth was swollen and bleeding, and she was crying and upset, Myers said.

Witnesses at the scene told Myers they had seen a man beating the woman.

Police forwarded their information to Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash on Dec. 12, according to police records. He filed 11 charges Dec. 14, and an arrest warrant was issued Dec. 15, according to court records.

Leonard was arrested at 6:46 p.m. Jan. 9, 2012, in the 1300 block of South Cherry Street by the Columbus Police. Two additional charges were filed in October.

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