Friday, June 25, 2010

Practically "off the hook"

Most people think that misdemeanor offenses aren't as "bad" as felonies, and legally speaking, I suppose they're not. After all, the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is 1 year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. But some of the most frightening cases occur in the misdemeanor domestic violence division, which is why CourtWatch is delighted that Orange County has a specialized court for these cases.

Wednesday, however, one defendant was barely given a slap on the wrist by Judge Michael Murphy for terrorizing his wife and her parents. There is also a 2-year old son involved.

Edward Adair Hook III was arrested December 2009 for Aggravated Assault and False Imprisonment for an incident involving his estranged wife and their son, but the case was transferred to misdemeanor court in February, 2010. Two months later, he pled to Improper Exhibition of a Weapon/Firearm and the False Imprisonment charge was dropped. Adjudication was withheld and he was sentenced to 2 days jail with credit for 2 days time served, ordered to undergo mental health evaluation & treatment, to have no hostile contact with his wife, to possess no weapons or ammunition and to complete 12 months of probation.

Hook's estranged wife and mother-in-law successfully obtained injunctions for protection in Lake County (Judge Michael Takac) earlier this month, although the wife's injunction permits "non-violent face to face contact" when exchanging their son for visits (a highly dangerous situation). Court records also note that phone, mail and email contact are permitted for matters relating to the child; also "that the 500 foot provision as it relates to Petitioner's (wife's) residence and place of employment do not apply" (say what?!?! This essentially renders the injunction worth less that the paper it's printed on).  The injunctions also prohibit the possession of firearms. At least the mother-in-law's injunction prohibits him from coming to her home.

Exactly one month after being sentenced in Orange County, on Mother's Day weekend, Mr. Hook violated his probation by (1) possessing a firearm and (2) making harassing phone calls to his in-laws in Lake County. Hook's father contacted the victim (Hook's mother-in-law) to notify her that Hook had come to his home in Seminole County, pointed a gun to his face, demanded he give him all his guns, and advised him that he (the defendant) was going to the victim's residence to "take care of her." Hook allegedly ripped the door to the room where the gun safe was located off its hinges. His father was concerned about his son's mental state and he was Baker Acted in Seminole County.

Mr. Hook's Violation of Probation hearing was Wednesday in Judge Murphy's courtroom.

His estranged wife testified that his physical abuse of her began when she was 7 months pregnant with their son, that he had made threatening calls and left threatening messages on facebook, he had stalked her, and that he had pulled a gun on her and their 2-year old son (the original offense for which he was arrested in December).

His mother-in-law testified that Hook told her he would do anything to get to his son.

His father-in-law testified that he now sleeps in the front room of their home to make sure the house is secure. He also told the Court that Hook told him to remember what happened to their neighbor's daughter & grandchild who were murdered in a domestic violence incident, saying "these things happen." The in-laws' neighbor happens to be a Lake County deputy sheriff whose daughter and grandchild who were killed by her husband.

The defendant's estranged wife testified that when she once asked him why he wants to harm innocent people, he replied "so my son can see me on TV."

Clearly, this defendant is a danger to his estranged wife, their child, and her parents.

Assistant State's Attorney Alison Kerestes vigorously argued for the judge to sentence Mr. Hook to 12 months in jail.

In his closing argument, Defense Counsel Robert Fisher told the judge that his client did not get to see his son on Father's Day (he was in custody).

Judge Michael Murphy, before he sentenced the defendant, stated to the victim "No one will be happy with the sentencing." He indicated that he believed, with his experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney and as a judge, that 80 days was appropriate. Hook was also given credit for 37 days he has already served. If he earns gaintime (also known as time off for good behavior), he could be out in less than a month.

Eighty days?

If any case deserved the maximum penalty (or at least close to the maximum penalty), CourtWatch thinks this is it. It should not matter that he will face charges in another county. What should matter is that he blatantly broke the law and needs to learn that there will be consequences for doing so.

In addition to violating the injunctions from Lake County and violating his Orange County probation, he made threats to kill and then acted upon those threats. Thank God the defendant's father called the victims and cooperated with law enforcement to get him hospitalized. Otherwise there very easily could have been a Mother's Day Massacre in Lake County.

CourtWatch is extremely disappointed that our misdemeanor DV court, something that the Domestic Violence Commission worked hard to create, did not send a stronger message to this perpetrator.

However, we are delighted that the different law enforcement agencies responded efficiently and effectively to protect the victims, to get help for the defendant, and to hold him accountable for his actions. Kudos to Lake, Seminole and Orange County law enforcement, the Orange County State Attorney and Orange County Probation for working well together. Hopefully, the court in Lake County won't let Mr. Hook "off the hook" for violating their injunction (also a misdemeanor charge).

5 comments:

  1. I am the mother-in-law in this case. First and foremost...THANK YOU for spreading the word about what is happening in our court system. Until you are thrown into such a horrible situation, you have NO IDEA!
    I need to make a couple of clarifications to your article, as I want it to be "completely" accurate.
    Our friend lost his daughter, Kim, to DV not a grandchild. However, the grandchildren were in the house during the incident.
    Also, even though Edward's father agreed with Seminole County law enforcement to have his son Baker's Act(ed) the night before Mothers Day, he "will not confirm or deny" that the incident occurred. Therefore, there are NO charges pending in Seminole County, even though we have statements from numerous Lake County Sherrif's officers who heard the conversation. It is considered "hearsay" without Mr. Hook, Sr. confirmation.

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  2. hahahahhahahhahahahhahahhahahhaha off the hook got that right lucky for me

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  3. I'm sorry, but Mr Eddie Hooker... oops, I mean Mr Hook seems to have severe mental, abusive, controlling, obsessive and anger issues that need to be resolved immediatedly!!!!! I am as well a victim of DV and I am also in the medical field and I have dealt with a lot of these cases. People like Mr. Hook will never change!! I have observed these types of situations with men and women and these type of men and women always follow the same path of abuse and violence! It's what I believe is a "disease!" They need serious help and treatment and these treatments can take years before you can see a change! It also depends on Mr. Hooker if he wants to change these negative attributes of himself? If someone doesn't want to change, they will keep repeating the same cycle over and over to the point where things will become dangerous. BTW, it already has become dangerous! How much farther are you willing to push yourself?? Mr. Hook, I know you will read this... So, in your heart, are you willing to change and get help? I think if you seriously love your son and your wife, you would do that?? Right? Regardless, if you and your wife do not get back together, at least do this for yourself and your son!! Instead of being vindictive and controlling, think about how YOU put yourself in this situation?? You disrespected your wife and your son! You think things are going to go back to normal now? I don't think so!!! In the meantime, why don't you get yourself straight mentally and emotionally, and stop harrassing and being a nutcase because you are not going to get anywhere in life, but sit in jail or prison depending on how much farther you push the limits! Is that what you want for your son? Your son knowing daddy is in jail/prison for the outrageous behavior you acted upon your family? I wouldn't be surprised if your wife has moved on! She deserves to have a stable man in her life that she can trust with your son because obviously you're not stable enough to be his father pulling guns out in your wife's face and your son witnessing it!!! These are your mistakes and it's your dirty mess you need to clean up before you can even consider making things right again with your son, wife and in-laws!

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  4. well let me just tell u the whole story i love my wife and son more than anything but her mom ran out relationship she is a mommas girl and needs to cut the cord and she has moved on with a new peace of shit dick that is with my wife wile we are still married the whole reasion i went crazy in the first place so why dont u go fuck yourself i want nothing more than to have my family back and i was not going to let another man be around my son and fuck my wife what would u do my actions were wrong but i felt that is what i needed to do at that time im over it now but still have to live with the fact another man sees my son more than i do and when i get to see him it is on my wifes time frame by the way u dont need to say shit about what my son needs or worry about my family

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  5. You are a scumbag loser. Did you even go to school? I bet you dropped out in the 6th grade, didn't you Eddie? Hahaha!! Your response, which is filled with spelling errors, leads me to believe that you sir, are mentally retarded! Good day!

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