Knoxville – A Crawford County man was sentenced to prison Friday in the 2018 beating of his then-wife while she was strapped to a chair in their Fort Valley home.
John Franklin Underwood, 42, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, false imprisonment, hindering a 911 call and aggravated stalking. A judge sentenced him to serve 20 years with the first 10 to be served in prison. Underwood entered his plea in Crawford County Superior Court.
If the case had gone to trial, prosecutor Neil Halvorson would have presented evidence showing:
While at their home on the evening of Oct., 15, 2018, Underwood and his then-wife argued about their marriage. Underwood became angry when his wife said she wanted a divorce.
Testimony would have shown that Underwood struck the woman in the face with a closed fist, strapped her to a chair and continued beating her until she lost consciousness. When she awoke, the woman discovered her ankle had been chained to another piece of furniture.
At some point, Underwood took her to a vehicle against her will and drove away from the house. She jumped from the moving vehicle in Warner Robins and called a relative to pick her up. The woman filed a report with Crawford County deputies on Oct. 16, 2018.
Evidence also would have shown that the woman made several attempts to call 911, but Underwood prevented her from completing the calls.
Underwood was arrested on Oct. 17, 2018. He was granted a bond in November 2018 with the condition that he not contact the woman. After his release, he was spotted by multiple witnesses knocking on the door and peering into a window at the house where the woman was living in January 2019.
Speaking after the hearing, District Attorney David Cooke said, “No person should ever be a captive to an abusive relationship, and I’m thankful Mr. Underwood’s wife escaped with her life. This sentence makes clear that the surest way to end up behind bars is to hold someone else as a prisoner.”
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Contact: Amy Leigh Womack