BEDFORD — A Bedford man was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday for attacking his estranged partner with a blade outside a convenience store in November 2020.
Ryan Odell Crenshaw, 44, pleaded guilty in April in Bedford Circuit Court to one count each of aggravated malicious wounding. Judge James Updike Jr. imposed the 30-year sentence one day shy of the two-year anniversary of the attack.
Officers responded to the Kornerstone Market, at the intersection of U.S. 221 and Oakwood Street, for calls of a disturbance, and witnesses said they observed Crenshaw beating the woman inside a car parked at the convenience store, Bedford police have said.
Wes Nance, Bedford County commonwealth’s attorney, has said the defendant’s estranged girlfriend moved into a residence on Oakwood Street with a family member, and on Nov. 23, 2020, Crenshaw showed up, saying his car had broken down.
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The victim refused to let Crenshaw in the family member’s home, Nance said. At midday when she left to run an errand, Crenshaw jumped in front of the vehicle, got into the passenger seat, held her against her will and told the victim to drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where he intended to kill her, Nance said.
She pulled into the market instead, and the two got out of the car, Nance said. Surveillance video that Nance played before the judge Tuesday showed Crenshaw attacking her with the utility knife, Nance said.
The victim’s statement Nance read in court said she was stabbed 15 times and suffered a three-inch slit in her neck, along with other slashing wounds. Crenshaw punched her about 30 times and almost killed her, the victim’s statement said.
She had never experienced such a level of trauma before and called the attack a “ridiculous action.” The victim wrote she can’t understand how someone who was supposed to be her soul mate could carry out such a heinous act.
The victim further wrote she has flashbacks and unimaginable nightmares from the incident and fears when Crenshaw is released, he will kill her. She wrote he told a magistrate if he had a machete that day, he would have cut her head off.
“I believe he meant that,” Nance read from the victim’s statement. “He is a gang member and a sex offender and there is no place in society for a monster of this caliber.”
She wrote she was bleeding out when emergency medics arrived and she was stabbed so hard in the elbow a piece of the knife, which Nance described as a razor blade, broke off and she has visible scars and nerve pain she still deals with.
“Do not let him out because I want to live,” Nance read from her statement.
Nance has said Crenshaw told law enforcement he should have cut the woman’s throat but was merciful.
Crenshaw’s mother, who resides on the West Coast, testified on a video call Tuesday her son was sexually abused by a family member at an early age and has dealt with anger issues and mental health struggles most of his life.
The victim captured her son’s heart and was the only who understood him, Crenshaw’s mother testified. His mother said the system failed him, the love of his life “tormented him” and he was struggling to a point where he was close to giving up.
Crenshaw was out of work, struggling financially and personally and is a good man who made bad decisions, his mother said.
Nance asked Crenshaw’s mother about text messages her son sent her days leading up to the attack that said “she was to pay,” he would make her suffer and the woman had to “eat it.”
Crenshaw testified of his extensive drug issues and struggles with keeping employment after being released from prison on a previous charge several years ago. He admitted in court to using mostly crystal meth and that while incarcerated he prayed for a woman to love and take care of, which was his estranged partner who he attacked.
Crenshaw also testified of the sexual abuse he suffered from a family member and other juveniles and said she knows what he did to the victim was wrong and he regrets it.
“I don’t want this life anymore,” Crenshaw said in tears while testifying. “I don’t want to be an addict.”
He said he failed miserably in fulfilling his vow to take care of her.
“This whole incident has been an emotional roller coaster to the extreme,” Crenshaw said. “I deserve to go to prison for what I did. From the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry.”
Crenshaw described their relationship as two broken souls whose demons played well together.
“I tried to do the right thing,” Crenshaw said. “I just didn’t know how to love correctly.”
Nance said the incident was “a brazen savage” attack by a convicted felon three years after release from prison after sexual abuse of a minor. Citizens were afraid to intervene because Crenshaw was holding the blade and he stood over her while she nearly bled out, Nance said.
“He’s blaming the victim for his own crimes,” Nance said.
Heather Goodwin, Crenshaw’s attorney, said the defendant was victimized at a young age, had extensive personal struggles and, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the already limited resources for him to get help were nonexistent. Crenshaw had “a stigma” as a sex offender and didn’t even see his case manager’s face at Horizon Behavioral Health, who he was attempting to get help from, until Tuesday’s hearing, Goodwin said.
“It’s Ryan’s fault we’re here and he owns that,” Goodwin said. “Unfortunately, Ryan snapped.”
Goodwin argued Crenshaw was not a threat to anyone else that day and requested a sentence of 18 years.
Nance said the victim will have psychological and physical scars the rest of her life and Crenshaw telling her during his testimony he forgives her rather than asking her forgiveness is “perverted and confused.”
The vast majority of Crenshaw’s remaining life will be behind bars, Nance said, adding: “And that’s exactly where he needs to be.”