Woodstock man gets life sentence for vicious attack on pregnant girlfriend

Credit: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office

A Woodstock man who unleashed a ruthless attack on his pregnant girlfriend when she tried to leave him could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Joseph English Gregory Newton, 31, received a life sentence plus 10 years after a Cherokee County jury convicted him on 15 charges related to the October 2021 assault.

A life sentence in Georgia means a prisoner is eligible for parole after 30 years, officials said. That means Newton must serve at least 30 years, then an additional 10-year sentence, before he can go before a parole board, a spokesperson for District Attorney Shannon Wallace said in a news release Tuesday.

Jurors found Newton guilty of kidnapping with bodily injury, criminal attempt to commit murder, criminal attempt to commit feticide, family violence aggravated assault, family violence aggravated battery, four counts of family violence battery, family violence simple battery, false imprisonment, sexual battery, two counts of criminal trespass, and tampering with evidence.

Newton and his live-in girlfriend’s turbulent relationship originally drew the attention of police after an attack in December 2020. The victim walked out of their home during an argument and tried to leave Newton, Wallace said. He chased her through their neighborhood, yanked her by the hair, ripped her clothes off, then dragged her across a yard and driveway, Wallace said. The woman sustained swollen eyes and lips, scratches, cuts and bruises to her arms and hands.

Several people who witnessed the encounter did nothing to help and did not call 911, prosecutors said. The woman eventually managed to escape and a family member called police, who arrested Newton one day later, according to the news release.

“As a community, we all need to take a hard look at cases like this and understand that violence is never acceptable and that sometimes we need to step up to protect a victim, even when the victim is not ready or is unwilling to seek aid,” said Rachel Ashe, the deputy chief assistant district attorney.

Even after he was arrested in 2020, Newton continued his relationship with the victim while awaiting trial, despite stipulations in his bond to have no contact with her.

The victim tried to break up with Newton in October 2021, this time for the sake of their unborn child. She was two months pregnant at the time, according to court testimony.

Prosecutors said Newton became angry and held his girlfriend hostage in their apartment for hours, threatening to kill their baby.

According to police reports, he punched, kicked, spat on, strangled and dragged the woman by her hair. He beat her with various objects around the residence, slammed her head against the floor, stomped on her abdomen and poured salt, sugar and coffee grounds on her open wounds.

The woman was able to escape and call 911 after Newton fell asleep. Woodstock police found the man hiding in an attic and arrested him, according to the release.

Officials said the child survived the attack despite the fact the victim suffered a subchorionic hemorrhage of the placenta.

“Even though Newton beat her for hours, she had the strength and courage to escape — ensuring that she and her baby would survive,” Wallace said in a statement.