An Athens man was sentenced last week to 25 years in prison without parole after a Clarke County Superior Court jury convicted him of a brutal assault last year in which he beat, strangled and tied up his girlfriend during a dispute at their Cooper Springs Road home.
Though the victim did not admit to being assaulted when testifying during the three-day trial, the prosecution produced evidence that proved 51-year-old Eric Lanier Chambers Sr. had been in contact with the victim from jail to coach her on what to say in the witness stand, according to Assistant Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Kalki Yalamanchili, the lead prosecutor.
In asking the judge to sentence Chambers as a recidivist, Yalamanchili cited the defendant’s extensive criminal history that dated to 1994. Over the past two decades, Chambers was arrested and convicted of crimes ranging from burglary, domestic violence, assaults on police officers and drugs.
The October 2016 incident resulted in his conviction last week in what Yalamanchili described as an extremely vicious assault. A verbal altercation concerning the victim’s desire for Chambers to quit his involvement with illegal drugs escalated into a physical assault that lasted about 40 minutes, the prosecutor said.
“He struck her repeatedly, seemed to have drug her because of what appeared to be carpet burn-type abrasions and strangled her,” Yalamanchili said in an interview Thursday. “As a result, she suffered visible injuries to her legs, arms, back, face and neck. Mr. Chambers bound the victim with belts in one of the bedrooms during the attack. He left her in that condition when he left the residence. She was able to work herself free and call 911.”
When jury selection began for the trial, Chambers received permission to have his public defender removed as his attorney so that he could represent himself. He did not cross-examine the witness, who neither confirmed or denied the assault occurred Yalamanchili said.
“She just claimed to not remember what happened,” he said
Even so, the prosecution showed the jury photographs of the victim’s injuries and produced police body camera footage of the victim recounting the violence to officers who responded to her 911 call, Yalamanchili said.
With his sentence, Chambers will have to serve 25 years and 10 more years on probation.
According to Yalamanchili, the jury’s verdict and Western Judicial Circuit Chief Judge David Sweat’s sentence demonstrated that “domestic violence and attempting to influence witness testimony are not acceptable in this community.”
Anyone who is in an abusive relationship can seek advice and services by calling Project Safe’s 24-hour hotline at (706) 543-3331, or by visiting http://www.project-safe.org.
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