There are some situations where signs of abuse are not so obvious. But there are times when the abuse is so severe, it can not be ignored. A North Carolina teen is in just one of those situations after allegedly being so severely beaten by her boyfriend that she required brain surgery according to Huffington Post Crime on May 29. Huffington Post Crime also reports the alleged assailant has had domestic violence charges upgraded to attempted murder.
It was May 23 in North Carolina when 17-year-old Hannah Connaway was allegedly having an argument with her boyfriend 18-year-old Michael Hutton. The Assistant District Attorney reported to WECT that the incident first occurred inside the Hutton home, continued outside, and ultimately ended on the front yard. Friend to the victim Claudene Williams described the scene in frightening terms, stating that she was with the couple at the time the fight occurred.
Claudene Williams stated that the altercation occurred over some tangled fishing lines and some snarky text messages. "Then it just escalated and kept on going."
Claudene Williams stated, "I kept on hearing her screaming and I keep on hearing all the sounds and it's just awful. I ran around the front door. I tried to get in. All the doors were locked. It was just awful."
The escalation according to Claudene Williams included Hannah being "beaten, strangled, and dragged…across the yard." By the time the first responders arrived, Hannah Connaway was unconscious in the yard. She was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for an emergency surgery to her brain. Michael Hutton was immediately taken into custody on Saturday.
Huffington Post reports the 911 call included statements like "She's bleeding and on the ground. She can't walk. It’s her boyfriend and he's threatening and screaming at us to get back in the car so I just need someone to be there."
Initial charges presented to Michael Hutton were assault charges on the Saturday night after the incident. Michael Hutton was initially charged with assault to inflict serious injury and assault on a female. WECT reports that he bonded out of jail on Monday May 26. On Tuesday at his arraignment the ADA upgraded his charges to attempted first degree murder and Hutton was taken back into custody immediately.
The ADA is taking a hard stance on this abuse case. In addition to attempted murder in the first degree, Michael Hutton is also facing charges of felony assault, first degree kidnapping, felony assault by strangulation, misdemeanor assault on a female, as well as a misdemeanor drug charge. The ADA has asked for a $2 million dollar bond on the suspect, with the judge in the case setting it at $1 million. If Hutton is able to procure the $1 million bond, he will be required to undergo a pre-trial release program that would include an ankle bracelet and home arrest conditions.
The accused's attorney is saying that the accused does not have a violent history, or a history of poor moral values. Hutton's attorney has stated the accused has a history of seizures and that the combination of alcohol and Hutton's history of seizures might have triggered this unfortunate incident. Hutton is currently being held in the New Hanover County Jail.
A former girlfriend to Hutton was at the arraignment on Tuesday and made some comments to reporters about the accused, but was very careful about calling him an abuser. This is very typical of abuse victims who fear consequences from exposing their abusers. Former girlfriend Montgomery Register spoke to reporters outside the courtroom saying,
"There's a lot that went on in the five and a half years that we did date. I'm not going to put that [abuse] out there, but people are going to believe what they want to believe and people that know me, know the things that I've been put through. He's not a good guy. I've forgiven him. I've forgiven him. Like I said, I'm a Christian 100%. I have no grudge against him or his family, but I feel for the people he put after me after I left, after I walked away."
The grandmother to the victim Hannah Connaway is quite saddened by all of this. She told WECT that Hannah is a beautiful and brilliant girl that "loves people". She did allude to the fact that Hannah was aware of some signs of abuse and knew of Hutton's "mental instabilities". Like most abuse victims, Hannah thought she could change him her grandmother reports.
The couple had been dating for two months at the time of the assault. Hannah had been planning to move to Hawaii for college in the fall to study mechanical engineering. Now these plans will depend on her progress, though WECT reports that she is showing signs of recovery. Claudene Williams her friend reports that on Wednesday Hannah was, "telling us she loves us and that she is happy to see us. She seems a bit confused but is flashing us bright smiles. The left side of her body is still not moving like the doctors would like, but it will get there hopefully."
Fortunately this story did not become a high profile murder story like other abuse victims Travis Alexander and Reeva Steenkamp. Both of these victims tell the story of signs of abuse from the grave. By all reports, Hannah Connaway is making a slow recovery and will not meet an untimely end, due to the fortunate and speedy efforts of a good friend, an exceptional first response team, and an Assistant District Attorney who is determined to see the accused pays for his crime.
Do you identify with stories of abuse? It's never too late to get help.