Christy Sims before the acid incident. 
Photo: BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Henry jury finds man deliberately threw acid on ex-girlfriend

Two years of legal anguish for a McDonough woman ended in a Henry County courtroom Friday as a jury found her ex-boyfriend guilty of deliberately dousing her with industrial-strength drain cleaner, severely disfiguring her.

Andrew Fordham of Sandy Springs was found guilty of one count of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery against Christy Sims who was left scarred on her face, arms and chest. Each count carries up to 20 years in prison. Superior Court Judge Arch McGarity set sentencing for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Fordham, who sat motionless as the verdict was read, was immediately taken into custody.

Sims’ mother Elaine Turner draped her arms around her daughter as McGarity read the verdict.

The verdict was vindication for two years of legal, physical and emotional challenges for Sims, a 44-year-old divorced mother of two who has seen her medical bills skyrocket.

“To God be the glory,” Sims said at the conclusion of the weeklong trial. “I’m glad this is over but I will not rejoice in another person’s demise. I just needed to right a wrong.”

Sims thanks assistant district attorney Sandi Rivers, investigator Kip Gerard and victims advocate Lorraine Bunn.

“They restored my faith in the justice system because I felt like I was battling this alone,” Sims said.

The trial centered around whether or not Fordham intentionally doused Sims with an industrial-strength drain opener called Clean Shot. Fordham said it was an accident.

“I’m satisfied justice was done,” assistant district attorney Sandi Rivers said.

The jury heard three days of testimony beginning with Tuesday’s emotional account from Sims, who had been in a relationship with Fordham for about six years at the time of the incident.

She testified she has had more than a dozen surgeries so far and that the acid burned down to her nerves. “I lived behind a veil for a whole year. I couldn’t go out in public or anything … It’s very painful.”

Fordham was at Sims’ home on April 28, 2013 trying to unclog a bathroom drain when he asked her to bring him a towel. When she got to the bathroom, she testified that Fordham was slipping around on the floor in water and suddenly lunged at her with a bowl of liquid that covered her face, chest and arms. Fordham later testified it was a coffee mug.

Sims testified Fordham told her 911 operators told him not to put any water on her because she “would ignite.” In the 911 tapes, an operator and a poison control expert are heard telling Fordham to put her in the shower.

In addition to hearing testimony from Sims and Fordham, jurors heard from emergency medical technicians, Grady Hospital burn nurses, a hazardous chemicals expert and Sims’ mother and brother. They also heard the 911 tape.

Defense attorney Christopher Chapman hammered on the fact that Sims as well as first-responders and the burn nurses, said the incident was an accident.

“It was only later when she knew the extent of her injuries, the extend of her medical bills, only then did it become ‘Mr. Fordham did this intentionally’.”

Rivers said paramedics and EMTs who arrived at the scene that Sunday afternoon were initially concerned about the scatter patterns and the damage done by the drain clearer.

They also noted Sims’ injuries were extreme while Fordham’s were minor.

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