Man convicted of manslaughter found guilty of terrorizing

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FARMINGTON – A local man convicted of manslaughter in 2000 was found guilty today in Franklin County District Court of terrorizing. Afterward, an altercation broke out between the victim’s family and the family of the convicted man outside of the courtroom. 

Jeremiah Paulton, 26, of Farmington, was sentenced in 2000 to 20 years in prison, with all but seven years of that sentence suspended. As he was on probation when he was arrested for terrorizing in 2008, some of those 13 suspended years could now potentially be served.

Paulton was a 17-year-old when he was convicted of stabbing Blaine Jasper, 30, between the ribs with a knife during an argument at the Sherwood Apartments on High Street in Farmington. Jasper died of his stab wounds and another man involved in the fight, Derrick Viles, who also had a knife, was stabbed in the stomach. Viles survived his wounds.

Paulton pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a Class A felony, in exchange of having a charge of murder dropped against him.

He was released in 2006, having served seven years. According to his probation officer, Paulton had one violation of his probation in April 2007, serving three weeks in jail in exchange for having a misdemeanor assault charge dropped.

However, on Aug. 10, 2008, Paulton called his ex-girlfriend and mother of his daughter. According to the victim’s testimony, Paulton became irate that he had not been informed that she had been involved in a car accident with his daughter in the back seat.

“He told me not to fu– with him or that he would kill me,” the victim said.

She also alleged that their relationship, which was not in progress at the time, had been a violent one. 

“Abusive,” she said. “Physically, mentally, emotionally – all the way around.”

Assistant District Attorney James Andrews also asked Farmington Police Department’s Officer Bridgette Gilbert, who interviewed the victim and eventually arrested Paulton, to testify. Gilbert said that the victim told her that she was frightened of Paulton. 

Andrews then asked Gilbert if Paulton had said anything while being transported to Franklin County Jail, following his arrest.

“He said ‘every dog has its day,'” Gilbert said, “and he indicated that he would do anything he could to take [the victim’s] children away.”

“When he said that,” Judge Valerie Stanfill asked, “how did you know he was talking about [the victim]?”

“He just got done calling her a bunch of names,” Gilbert said.

Andrews said the victim had received calls from Paulton in the past, but that this was different. In this case, he said, the comments had been severe enough to make a reasonable person fear the defendant.

“She’d had these unwelcome calls in the past,” Andrews said, “but it was the threat that pushed it over the edge.”

Paulton’s attorney, Joshua Robbins, attempted to provide the judge with an alternative view of the Aug. 10 incident. Witnesses in the same mobile home as the victim when she received the call testified that she had seemed more angry than scared.

“She said that she’d put [her boyfriend] in jail,” one of the witnesses said, “and was going to do the same for Jeremiah.”

Robbins said that the comment pointed to an attempt at revenge rather than an actual threat.

“She was going to pull a trick to get him in jail,” Robbins said, “and she has succeeded for the past five months.”

Robbins argued that the state didn’t have a preponderance of evidence, which is required to prove a probation violation, let alone proving Paulton’s guilt beyond all reasonable doubt, which would be required to convict him of the terrorizing charge.

Stanfill, however, sided with the state’s view of the incident, finding the inconsistencies between the defense and state witnesses to be a case of “spin.”

“I feel the threat would have put [the victim] under a reasonable fear for her safety,” Stanfill said. 

Sentencing has not been scheduled yet, with Stanfill meeting with both parties later this week to arrange a date. Several relatives of Jasper were also in the courtroom, and appeared elated by the news. Andrews noted that some people in the courtroom wanted to be heard during sentencing.

Afterwards, in the hallway, some of these relatives and supporters of Paulton, including his mother, traded angry words. This exchange included someone advising Jasper’s relatives to “get over it” which led to more comments back and forth.

Court officers and police officers in the building helped separate the two groups.

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