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Sentence is life for cutting girlfriend’s throat

by John Lynch | June 4, 2010 at 3:16 a.m.

— A Little Rock man who once served prison time for threatening President George W. Bush’s daughters was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for cutting his girlfriend’s throat after jurors saw letters he’d written describing himself as an “American Taliban” and calling for death to America.

Gregory Houston Holt’s Islamic faith was not an issue at his two-day trial until the jury convicted him on all charges - aggravated residential burglary and first-degree domestic battery - for the May 2009 attack on Connie Taylor. The only indication visible to the jury of Holt’s beliefs was a large crescent moon and star on the back of his left hand.

The proceedings before Circuit Judge Marion Humphrey also revealed that Holt, 34, has been feuding with Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the Tennessee man charged with capital murder over the slaying of a soldier at a Little Rock recruiting center. The dispute purportedly was over which man is the better Muslim.

And Holt claimed that Randeep Mann, the Pope County doctor accused of bombing the chairman of the state Medical Board, had consulted with him about medical evidence in Holt’s case.

Only after jurors had delivered their guilty verdict did they learn why Holt had been shackled and accompanied by armed deputies: a letter he wrote to jailers in April promising a potentially deadly “jihad” inside the courtroom should “the verdict in my trial go south.”

But Holt had little reaction to the guilty verdict, delivered after 40 minutes of deliberation. At sentencing, deputy prosecutor Will Jones showed jurors eight letters Holt had written from jail. In the letters, Holt occasionally praised Osama bin Laden, dreamed of dying a martyr in a jihad, and wrote poetry imagining Little Rock police detective Damon Whitener being decapitated by the Taliban. Holt also wrote how he wasn’t bound by American laws, but only recognized the Shariah law of Islam.

Defense attorney Ed Adcock acknowledged his client was “guilty of something,” but asked jurors to convict on lesser charges. At sentencing, he urged jurors to ignore the “rantings of a letter-writing fool.” Attacking Taylor was the only real violent act of his client’s life, Adcock said. He called on jurors not to give into prejudice against Muslims.

“Don’t send him to jail for the rest of his life because he’s an idiot,” Adock said, recommending a prison sentence of 40 years. “Don’t punish him because he praises Allah. Don’t punish him for radical ideas. You want to do justice, not revenge.”

Jones recommended a life sentence and told jurors that authorities don’t want Holt punished for what he believes, but for what he’s done. Holt’s behavior is only getting worse, the prosecutor said, pointing to Holt’s federal conviction for threatening Bush’s children and a state conviction for threatening to blow up a military recruitment center in Faulkner County.

“He’s told you what’s in his mind. He told you what he’s going to do,” Jones said.

The middle-of-the-night ambush on the sleeping 47-year-old Taylor left the mother of two with scars on her neck and upper chest and cost her partial use of one hand. On the stand, she cried describing how the touch of her grandchildren on the wounds can hurt her and how she now has to struggle to hold them.

Taylor testified she’d broken up with Holt a month before the attack, admitting they had a tumultuous nine month relationship. She said she awakened to find Holt standing over her holding a knife and told how he chased her down a hallway to cut her throat and stab her.

Holt took the stand to give his account, claiming he had stabbed the woman once because she was drunk and he thought she was about to pull a gun on him. Taylor attacked him despite the heavily bleeding wound, he said.

Holt said he didn’t know how the other wounds were inflicted, speculating Taylor could’ve been cut while they rolled on the floor fighting. He wanted to call the police, Holt said, but only left at the urging of the wounded Taylor, taking the knife with him. Holt testified he regretted having to hurt Taylor, but said he needed to defend himself.

Deputy prosecutor Carol Thompson mocked his claims, pointing out that Taylor was the only one hurt and could have died from her wounds.

“What is your purpose when you’re stabbing someone in the neck? To scare her?” Thompson said.

Arkansas, Pages 11 on 06/04/2010

Print Headline: Sentence is life for cutting girlfriend’s throat

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