FIRST ON CBS7: Former Martin County Sheriff pleads guilty to assault, will not serve jail time

MARTIN COUNTY, Tx. (KOSA) -- Former Martin County Sheriff John Woodward went to court facing assault charges after he allegedly beat his former girlfriend.

Former Martin County Sheriff John Woodward. (Photo: Midland County Sheriff's Office)

This morning the courtroom was ready for trial with a jury picked out.

But in a surprise turn of events, Woodward chose to plead guilty before testimony began.

That plea deal doesn’t include any jail time.

Instead, District Attorney Hardy Wilkerson explains Woodward will be put on probation for three years.

In that time, he will have to complete a 30-day drug and alcohol program as well as another one for anger management.

On top of that, Woodward also has to pay $30,000 dollars of restitution to the victim and obey her protective order against him.

“If he doesn’t comply with the terms that he—that was placed on him by the court obviously everybody’s going to be the better for it, especially him,” Wilkerson said. “If he doesn’t comply, it’s not going to get well for him.”

This all began last September when the Martin County Sheriff’s Office reported Woodward had attacked his then-girlfriend.

Their report said he hit and choked her before he pointed a gun at her and pushed her into a gun safe.

She was taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“She felt as though he was going to be her knight in shining armor and how he could behave that way and at times he could be a good man,” Wilkerson said. “And then you flip a switch and he would be controlling, domineering, verbally abusive and eventually became more into violence”

Despite this behavior, Wilkerson said his client read a statement to the courtroom saying she’s comfortable with severity of Woodward’s punishment.

Wilkerson said all she wanted was to escape a cycle of abuse.

“That was the situation she felt trapped in and her main goal was to get away and to stop that cycle and she seems to have successfully done so,” he said.

Wilkerson also said if Woodward violates the terms of his probation in any way, he will be sent back to court where he could face up to 10 years in prison.