LIMA — The judge made it clear that, in her opinion, the facts in the case were far less sensational than the headlines might suggest.
And with that clarification, Allen County Common Pleas Judge Terri Kohlrieser spared Garyson Merchant any prison time for cutting his mother with a Samurai-style sword earlier this year.
The judge instead ordered the Lima man, who reportedly is mildly autistic and suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, to a three-year term of probation and a potential date in mental health court at some point in the future.
“At first glance, this case is about a man stabbing his mother with a sword. He didn’t stab her with a sword; it sounds like it was more of a scratch, albeit with a very large weapon,” the judge said.
Kohlrieser sentenced Merchant, 24, to serve three years on probation and a 14-day jail sentence and ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation.
As part of a resolution offered by prosecutors, Merchant pleaded guilty in April to a Bill of Information count of aggravated assault, a felony of the fifth degree, after being indicted in March by a grand jury on a single count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony.
Lima Police Department officers were summoned the afternoon of Jan. 22 to 1157 Rice Ave. and found Erika Hathaway, 44, suffering from knife wounds. She was transported to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.
The weapon was described as a sword with a blade approximately 28 inches in length. Police said Merchant and his mother had been involved in an argument that escalated to the point that the man stabbed his mother on the right side of her torso.
Merchant’s attorney, Carroll Creighton, suggested that his client was “provoked” by his mother during a verbal altercation at their home on the day in question.
“Police reports say his mother was ‘getting in his face’ during the argument, and then he got the sword and tried to keep her away from him,” Creighton said.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Randall Basinger told the judge that Merchant “told his mother to stop arguing with him or he would stab her.” Basinger did admit the injuries suffered by Hathaway were not serious.
Merchant did not speak at the sentencing hearing.