Cracker Barrel assailant wins early release from jail

Troy Dale West, sentenced in October to six months in jail for assaulting a female Army Reservist at a Morrow Cracker Barrel, is a free man.

Worth County Sheriff  Freddie Tompkins confirmed to the AJC that West was released a week ago Friday -- 43 days after he began serving his sentence.

West agreed to a plea deal in October that lumped together four misdemeanors in place of three felony charges, thus making him eligible to work off his time while in jail, Tompkins said. The southwest Georgia body shop owner had roughly 4-1/2 months remaining on his 6-month sentence when he was turned over to Worth County deputies on Oct. 22.

Tompkins said West accepted work detail each day he was incarcerated. "It's normal procedure," the sheriff told the AJC. "We treated him the same as we would anyone serving for a misdemeanor."

West faced a potential 10 years in prison after being charged with beating and kicking Tashawnea Hill as she walked out of the Clayton County restaurant on Sept. 9, 2009. Hill's 7-year-old daughter watched as West assaulted her mother while yelling racial slurs, police said. West, of Poulan, testified that Hill initiated the fight by spitting on him, which she denied.

Hill could not be reached for comment Saturday night. Before West was sentenced, she read a tearful statement in court saying she had not received justice from the court nor an apology from her assailant.

"You beat me down and you maligned my character," she said. "You could have at least apologized for what you did."

West told the court, "I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong but I feel it’s in my best interest [to take the plea bargain]." During his trial Clayton County assistant district attorney Jason Green asked West, "Is it acceptable to hit a woman?"

He replied, "It depends."

One punishment that will apparently stick: a lifetime ban from all Cracker Barrel establishments, announced by the Tennessee-based chain in September 2009.