JACKSONVILLE, Fla – A Jacksonville man was sentenced Friday to prison after pleading no contest to felony battery charges.
Colten Asher was accused of beating and choking his ex-girlfriend and throwing her at a dog cage. He faced five years in prison, but a judge sentenced him to two years on each of those counts, which will run at the same time. Following his prison sentence, Asher was ordered to serve two years of probation.
A civil complaint filed by the woman said Asher punched her in the face, pinned her down and strangled her. When she tried to stand up, he kicked her multiple times in the head and then threw her at a metal dog cage, causing it to bend, according to the complaint.
Court documents show she was taken to the hospital and treated for lacerations and bruises to her face, neck and several other parts of her body.
After the incident, Asher left Jacksonville. He was later caught by U.S. Marshals in Idaho.
Earlier this month, the defense filed a motion for a downward departure, or lesser sentence, arguing Asher suffers from a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder from his time serving in the military.
“When he came back, he wasn’t the same thing,” Kim Asher, Colten Asher’s mother, said in court Friday.
The motion also argued his ex-girlfriend was the initial aggressor and started the fight back in September 2018, but the state argued differently.
The victim spoke in court Friday. Her family asked that her identity not be revealed.
“Looking over my shoulder, scanning every face in a crowded restaurant or store and avoiding places altogether became my norm. I dropped from 128 pounds to 109 and became even more of a shadow of my former self, both physically and mentally,” she said. “After living a fearful and anxiety ridden existence for so long, I am ready for this chapter of my life to be over."
Crawford Pierce, Colten Asher’s attorney, spoke after the judge handed down the sentencing.
“Obviously, we are disappointed,” Pierce said. “He has mental conditions related to his combat service. He is finally now getting the treatment he has been unable to get the last few years. We just don’t want to see anything disrupt that and that’s what this is going to do.”
The victim’s father also spoke to court.
“Today is our first day of healing, with all the anticipation and anxiety. Taking from this, it changed our lives,” he said. “You look at things differently, people differently and situations differently. We are hoping to move forward from today and to continue to heal from this.”