A Columbia County man with a history of harassing and stalking women pleaded guilty Monday to a third offense of stalking and was given six months in jail.
Jeffery Brassell, 55, pleaded in Columbia County Superior Court to aggravated stalking, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Judge Sheryl B. Jolly sentenced him to 10 years on probation, with the first six months served in the county jail.
When arrested on the charge in December 2013, Brassell broke the terms of a six-year probation sentence for stalking that Jolly imposed in April 2012. For violating probation, Jolly sentenced him to six months in jail, but he served only three months.
Assistant District Attorney Pete Lamb laid out Brassell’s history of arrests, convictions and orders of protection. Witnesses he called included two women who said Brassell had terrorized them, and family members of a third woman still too afraid to be in the same room with him.
In the current case, Wendy Swanson met Brassell through online dating. When she ended their relationship, he refused to leave her alone, Lamb said. Between May 30 and Aug. 15, 2013, Brassell called, texted and emailed her 103 times. One message in August 2013 said “I am not giving up.” A week later, he called her a vulgar name and “stupid.” When a warrant for his arrest was issued, he went to Kentucky, Lamb said.
In Kentucky, Brassell struck up a friendship with Crystal Bolden after repeatedly showing up at places she went, Lamb said. She couldn’t understand how he knew she needed a new water heater before she did, Lamb said. After she ended their relationship, Brassell went to the school of Bolden’s daughter and sat with the child during her lunch. Bolden asked a friend, a Kentucky state trooper, for help, and he found out Brassell was wanted in Georgia.
Before Bolden and Swanson, Margaret Brassell discovered after she married Brassell in 1999 that he had installed cameras in their home to watch her while he was gone, Lamb said. During their separation, Brassell once took her daughter out of school, and he repeatedly called and went to her sister’s house where she was staying, Lamb said. He was convicted of stalking her in January 2006.
Anne McNair said Brassell abused her physically, mentally and sexually. For two years he terrorized her, breaking into her home and office and hacking her computer, she said. He also ignored a restraining order and kidnapped her dog, she said.
After McNair, Brassell fixated on Teresa Fields, who obtained a restraining order in November 2011. She was going to come to court Monday, Lamb said, but backed out after she became physically sick. She begged him not to subpoena her, Lamb said.
Then there was Cindy Hill, whom Brassell pleaded guilty to stalking in April 2012. She still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, Lamb said. When Lamb called to ask her to come to court, she burst into tears.
Lamb asked Jolly for a sentence of five years in prison followed by five years on probation.
Defense attorney Maureen Floyd presented a case for a straight probation sentence, which the prosecutor had offered in 2014 when Brassell was indicted.
Floyd said Brassell was hit hard when Jolly revoked his probation for six months and took away his first offender status. Counseling has been successful, and he hasn’t had any trouble with any women since Swanson, who told the Columbia County sheriff’s officer she was not afraid of Brassell, Floyd said.
Brassell told the judge there are two sides to every story. He intends to continue counseling.
As conditions of probation, Jolly ordered Brasell to continue counseling and perform 120 days of community service at the Columbia County water treatment plant. He is not to contact any of his previous victims or their families, and he cannot engage in online dating or any social media.
Jolly agreed to allow Brassell to report to jail June 1 so he can complete an remodeling job his customer had already paid for.