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Two Nelson County women plead guilty in violent 2019 brawl
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Two Nelson County women plead guilty in violent 2019 brawl

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Two Nelson County women on Monday admitted to participating in a violent 2019 brawl that caused hundreds of dollars in property damage and injured five people, including a 2-year-old toddler.

Aneila Jane Martin, 20, and Cari Elizabeth Wood, 19, entered guilty pleas in Nelson Circuit Court to an array of charges stemming from the incident, including two counts each of felony unlawful wounding.

Martin and Wood also each pleaded guilty to destruction of property, a misdemeanor. In addition to the three charges, Wood pleaded guilty to strangling a 2-year-old child who was present during the Dec. 2, 2019, altercation.

At least five victims suffered injuries in what prosecutors characterized as a brutal clash sparked by a bitter argument between two people involved in the fracas. Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Rutherford said several people sustained busted lips and open wounds in the fighting.

The violent confrontation, described by prosecutors as “absolute mayhem,” resulted in more than $500 in property damage, including a smashed car window.

Martin and Wood, who are among four people charged in connection with the violent free-for-all, were originally indicted on five counts of malicious wounding by a mob. Prosecutors were forced to drop two of those charges after a pair of alleged victims declined to participate in the court case.

As part of the plea agreement reached between prosecutors and the two defendants, the remaining malicious wounding by mob charges were reduced to unlawful wounding charges. A felony charge of entering a home with intent to commit assault and battery was also downgraded to misdemeanor destruction of property.

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Thomas Berry, Martin’s attorney, told the court his client was satisfied with the agreement struck in the plea deal. Martin, who was 19 at the time of the offenses, appeared in court in a gray mask and blue winter jacket.

Heather Goodwin, Wood’s attorney, said the then-18-year-old was remorseful for the part she played in the incident. Wood entered her plea through a blue disposable face mask.

Goodwin did not dispute the evidence presented by prosecutors, but she noted her client also was injured in the attack and was hospitalized because of her injuries.

“She is today taking culpability for her actions in this case,” Goodwin said.

Judge Michael Doucette accepted the plea agreement reached in the case. He ordered each defendant to pay $272 in restitution.

Martin now faces up to 11 years in prison for her role in the brawl. Wood faces a maximum sentence of 16 years behind bars. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.

Martin will remain out of custody and on bond before being sentenced later this year. Wood will continue to be confined to her home, where she is being monitored by an electronic bracelet.

Rutherford said his office was committed to pursuing justice in cases involving wanton violence, especially those that include children. He noted the trauma caused by a violent attack can linger long after a single incident.

“Brawls are not just brawls,” Rutherford said. “Brawls impact a lot of people. It’s not a one time mistake.”

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