Bainbridge, GA -- May 8. 2012 --
"This is a place where you can raise your children and retire, and the defendant I think changed the outlook of a lot of citizens," said prosecuting District Attorney Joe Mulholland.
Eric Hall's guilty plea and sentencing of 100 years in prison ensures he'll be off the streets. It does not reverse the home attack on a 78 year old woman and 92 year old man. It altered their lives and a community.
"I talked with the female victim afterwards and she had told me that she hoped to spend the next 3-5 years with her husband," said Mulholland.
Victim Mary Jean Harrell did not get that luxury. She suffered a broken hip during the attack and spent time in the hospital recovering. She passed away in September 2011. Mr. Harrell suffered from dementia prior to the attack and slipped into a deeper case following the home invasion. He's now in a nursing home.
How did Hall gain the Harrell's trust? A picture on Hall's cell phone of him with Harrell provides the answer. Hall previously showed up at the couple's home pretending to be interested in buying their car.
"He changed their lives forever," said friend and neighbor Michele Miller. "We used to keep our doors unlocked, my husband and son would walk the dogs and leave the doors unlocked I'd be in there by myself. But after this happened...if we even come out into the yard we lock the doors behind us."
Miller said that since the attack a neighborhood watch has been formed. Georgia authorities received help from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to track down the phone with the cell phone picture of Harrell and Hall on it.