A Columbia man was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for attacking his estranged wife with a machete this year, a case authorities described as "something out of a horror movie."
Frederick E. Jones, 54, was convicted by a jury in October of first-degree attempted murder, assault and violation of an April 20 court order forbidding him to go near his wife, Natalyn Tart-Jones, or her residence. He will be eligible for parole in 2021.
On May 1, Jones camped out in a wooded area near Tart-Jones' condominium in the 8700 block of Hayshed Lane in Columbia and waited for her to leave for work. During a confrontation in the parking lot, Tart-Jones went to reach for a can of pepper spray. Jones pulled a machete from under his clothing and struck her repeatedly, causing deep lacerations to her face, fracturing her skull, damaging her hands and severing some fingers, according to court records.
When Jones entered the courtroom yesterday, Tart-Jones, 50, broke down in tears and left the room for a few minutes. When she returned, Tart-Jones read a statement asking Judge Lenore Gelfman to give Jones, the person she spent 13 years with, the maximum sentence.
"It is a life sentence for me. I will never, ever get back body parts, and I will never, ever have peace of mind," Tart-Jones said. "Every day I relive [seeing] him on me with a machete, cutting me like an animal."
At the time of the attack, Jones was charged with second-degree assault as a result of an April 18 incident involving Tart-Jones. The assault prompted Tart-Jones to have the ex parte order issued, according to court records.
Louis P. Willemin, public defender for Jones, said his client did not deserve a life sentence.
"Even though Mr. Jones committed this terrible act, he is not a terrible person," said Willemin, who said Jones participated in many charity organizations and was described by friends as a "peaceful and genuine" person.
Given the opportunity to speak, Jones said, "I'm sincerely regretful for what I did."