Eric Griffey sits in an Androscoggin County Superior Court courtroom on Wednesday morning awaiting sentencing on convictions, including aggravated assault stemming from the July stabbing of his then-fiancee.

AUBURN — A local man was sentenced Wednesday to four years behind bars for “a brutal and unprovoked attack” on his then-fiancee, but not before the judge invoked the words of their 5-year-old son who was at home the day his father beat and stabbed his mother.

“He saw the knife and red stuff,” Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy read from a letter penned by a child advocacy interviewer.

“He actually thought he needed rain boots to get through it,” the boy’s therapist said the boy told her.

In his letter to the court, he wrote: “I’m mad at my daddy for hurting mommy. I’m sad because my daddy hurt mommy. I am worried that daddy will get out of jail and come to our home.”

Kennedy suspended half of 45-year-old Eric Griffey’s eight-year sentence, ordering that he be placed on probation for four years after his release from prison. During that time, he must have no contact with the victim and his son.

Deputy District Attorney James Andrews had sought a sentence totaling 15 years, arguing that the crime of aggravated assault occurred outside the 27 Clover Lane home when Griffey chased Kellie Cardona across their front lawn, across the street and fell on her on a neighbor’s lawn, where he stabbed her with a kitchen knife.

Griffey’s threats to Cardona inside their home should have been treated as a separate incident, resulting in the crime of domestic violence criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, Andrews reasoned. By recommending the judge stack the maximum penalties for the two crimes, Andrews had hoped Kennedy would impose a 15-year total sentence with all but 10 years suspended.

He said later Wednesday that he was “disappointed” by the judge’s ruling.

“This is the type of behavior that results in homicides,” Andrews had argued at the hearing. “This is the type of behavior that ruins families, three generations of a family and destroys not just a person’s emotional abilities, but their actual intellectual abilities, their developmental abilities.”

Andrews called to the witness stand early during Wednesday’s hearing a licensed clinical social worker who spoke of profound long-term effects post-traumatic stress disorder can have on not only the victim of an assault, but also on a child who has witnessed domestic violence.

Rebecca Brown said the notion that a child will grow out of a traumatic experience is a “common misperception.” Such experiences can actually change a child’s neurobiology, she said.

Kellie Cardona told Kennedy on Wednesday that “July 19, 2016, is a day that will haunt me for life.”

Her physical wounds from the attack have healed,”but the scars left behind are constant reminders of this horrible nightmare,” she said, leaving her numbed and empty.

“My children were forced to see their mother battered, bruised and bloodied,” she said. Her 5-year-old son had struggled to recognize her through the “blood-stained hair and skin that covered my entire body.”

Nightmares, flashbacks, triggers, sleeplessness, fear, anxiety and grief dominate everyday of her life and those of her two young sons, she said.

Back at work finally, Cardona said she has changed, forcing her colleagues to worry about her and help with her workload. She misses workdays each week because of therapy visits and, some days, because “I cannot control the chaos in my head and the anguish in my heart.”

Her ability to trust in people “has been severed,” she said. “I will never forgive Eric for what he has done.”

Her parents told the judge their lives were changed by Griffey’s actions.

“I trusted this man with my daughter and grandchildren,” Carol Laurendeau said. “What a fool I was.”

Caring for Cardona’s children after the assault has come with constant reminders of what Griffey did.

He wrote several letters to her and her husband, Philippe, but never apologized, she said.

“Never once did he mention he was sorry for what he’s done,” she said.

“I now feel only disgust, anger and pain,” she said.

“It has been an emotional roller coaster ride of heartbreak, sadness and occasional depression,” Philippe Laurendau said. The event has taken a toll on the emotional health of him and everyone in the family’s three generations, he said.

Andrews painted a picture of a jealous and angry alcoholic who snapped after simmering over a misperceived romantic relationship between Cardona and her son’s baseball coach.

Griffey’s attorney, James Howaniec, painted a different picture, one of a man with mental illness that has plagued him for decades. Griffey’s father, a noted psychiatrist, diagnosed, medicated and treated Griffey for depression and other mental health issues. When his father died recently, Griffey’s mental health quickly deteriorated, Howaniec said.

Despite Griffey’s actions on July 19, Howaniec said he didn’t believe Griffey intended to kill Cardona and a jury who heard evidence presented at a three-day trial starting in February agreed, finding him not guilty of attempted murder.

Griffey had taken the witness stand, saying that he didn’t know why he pulled a steak knife on Cardona, tackled her, punched her, slammed her head against the kitchen floor and countertop, chased her outside their home and stabbed her repeatedly until a neighbor disarmed and subdued him.

Griffey had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, a defense strategy apparently rejected by the jury in announcing its verdict.

On Wednesday, Howaniec said Griffey was a “witty, intelligent, always respectful and model” client when he was taking his prescribed medication.

Howaniec had argued Griffey’s sentence should be six years with all of that time suspended except for one year. Unlike Andrews, Howaniec said he believed sentencing on all of the charges should overlap because they stemmed from a single incident.

Five friends and family members spoke on his behalf, urging the court to get him the mental health care he needs.

They described a man who had so much empathy that he burdened himself, sometimes to a fault, by assuming the problems of others.

They also described him as a caring, doting father.

Lauryn Griffey-Parks, 14, who lives with her mother in Lewiston, said her father has “always been a really influential person in my life” and that life without him since his incarceration “has been tough and the longer he’s in jail the harder it gets.” She said she hoped he would be freed in time to attend her graduation from high school in three years.

Peter Griffey said his brother is planning to live with him and his wife in their Lewiston home when he’s released from prison. Griffey said he would put his brother to work assisting in his insurance business at his home.

“I believe this was an isolated incident,” Peter Griffey said of the assault.

“It will take a lot of time to piece his life back together,” he said.

Peter Griffey said his brother has expressed to him remorse for the July assault “on many occasions.”

“I truly don’t believe he knew what he was doing that day,” Griffey said.

In sentencing Eric Griffey, Kennedy said he must serve a concurrent four-year sentence on the domestic violence criminal threatening charge and 364 days for domestic violence assault. She added conditions to his four-year probation, including that he not have or use alcohol or illegal drugs as well as dangerous weapons, including firearms. He can be searched at random for those things and tested for alcohol and drugs.

He must undergo substance abuse and mental health treatment and counseling and take all prescribed medications. He’s also required to attend and complete a certified batterer’s program.

Griffey may not be in the city of Auburn at any time and he may not have any contact with Kellie Cardona and her parents and her sons. He also must stay away from his former Clover Lane neighbors.

He owes the victims’ compensation fund $9,213.76, Kennedy said.

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