MEXICO — Two women at the heart of an assault case in Mexico opened up Monday night about the seven-month feud that came to a head Friday night with one of them in the hospital and the other charged with elevated aggravated assault.
Both agree on one point: Their fight had nothing to do with a custody battle over the victim's 6-year-old grandson as reported by the media over the weekend. It does, however, have to do with a man.
Jennifer Hodgkins, 28, of Carthage was charged over the weekend after turning
herself in to police after the attack on Sharon Gardner, 44, outside her Main Street home in Mexico. Hodgkins contacted the Sun Journal on Monday to say the media misrepresented the incident as a "brutal beating," but that is was really a matter of self-defense.
"I'm not a granny-beating person," Hodgkins said. "She came after me. She came out of the dark and across the road with her fists in the air and I said, 'Well, here goes nothing.'"
Hodgkins said she finally confronted Gardner after months of being harassed by her, including several threats against her life and the life of her child. She said the dispute erupted several months ago when she started dating, and eventually moved in with, Gardner's ex-boyfriend, 34-year-old Adam Currier.
Carrier and Gardner lived together nine years before splitting up earlier this year, both women said. In the spring, Carrier and Hodgkins started dating and eventually moved in together, but Gardner said her relationship with Carrier continued.
"All three of us are adults. All three of us know what was going on. But only one of us chose to pick up a weapon," Garden said of Friday's assault.
Hodgkins, on the other hand, said Gardner started harassing her shortly after her relationship with Carrier started. She said she reported the ongoing feud to the authorities on several occasions and even took out a restraining order against Gardner.
Chief James Theriault of the Mexico Police Department confirmed Monday night that an officer served Gardner with a harassment order about a month ago that was filed with Franklin County. The order meant that Gardner was not to call, write letters or contact Hodgkins in any way. He said such a judgment is similar to a restraining order, but does not necessarily mean an arrest if a person does not obey the order.
Hodgkins said Gardner called her Friday evening on her way home from work to tell her that Carrier had just left her home. Gardner, on the other hand, said Hodgkins called her to tell her that she was in front of her home with Carrier's clothes and to come out and get them.
Gardner said she didn't remember who called who first, but that Carrier had just left her home minutes before Hodgkins showed up.
"He wasn't even there," Hodgkins said of Gardner's claim. "He was on his way home from a class. He's right by me. This lady is just nuts. It came down to a point where I had to defend myself."
Hodgkins said the weapon she used during the fight was in her car for months because she feared Gardner, who she claimed made threats against her life. Gardner denied threatening Hodgkins' life, but did admit that both women have harassed one another over the past several months.
Theriault confirmed that Gardner filed multiple reports with the Mexico Police Department over the past seven months alleging that Hodgkins was harassing her.
"Both of us had done stuff that harassed the other in one way or another, both of us," Gardner said. "What it comes down to is we're three adults. We all knew what we were doing. Jen decided to pick up a weapon."
Hodgkins, on the other hand, said she was pushed to the point of self-defense after not getting much help from local authorities. She said Gardner even went so far as to have her (Hodgkins') mail transferred to the victim's home and obtained cell phone numbers of her family and friends and started contacting them repeatedly.
"I'm not a brutal attacker," Hodgkins said. "I'm a defending-myself kind of person."
Theriault, however, said Hodgkins should have let the law take its course and not approached Gardner if the woman had called her. He said if Gardner had indeed contacted Hodgkins, then she should have contacted the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and allowed the authorities to handle the situation instead of taking matters into her own hands.