District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington announced today the guilty plea and sentencing in a 2021 domestic violence case.

Carl Murray, 35, of Natchitoches, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault upon a dating partner with a minor present. Prior to the guilty plea, prosecutors began jury selection to proceed with a trial. However, after eight jurors were selected for the trial, Murray changed his plea to guilty. He was sentenced to 4 years of incarceration at hard labor by Judge Desiree Duhon Dyess.

Murray, who has a prior conviction of aggravated battery, was charged under the “Aggravated Assault Upon a Dating Partner Child Endangerment Law” in which a minor child 13 years of age or younger was present at the scene when an assault committed on a family member or dating partner.

Special Assistant District Attorney Clifford R. Strider, III and First Assistant Cloyd Benjamin, Jr. prosecuted the case.

Domestic violence cases have risen in Natchitoches Parish, a trend also seen in jurisdictions nationwide.

“Unfortunately, domestic violence happens in all communities, and Natchitoches Parish is not immune. It affects every demographic, every socio-economic level, and does not discriminate. Last year, the number of domestic violence cases greatly exceeded the previous year,’ said District Attorney Harrington.

Domestic violence cases have risen 44% in Natchitoches Parish and have risen 108% in the city of Natchitoches in the past year” said District Attorney Harrington.

Louisiana law recognizes domestic violence as physical or sexual abuse or any offense against a person, physical or non-physical, committed by one household member, family, or dating partner against another.

“However, this tragic trend can be mitigated and prevented. We want to help those in need of protection before an act of violence occurs. Our office has a dedicated, full- time Victims Assistance Coordinator who works with victims and potential victims to ensure they are aware of their legal rights and protections to prevent future harm,” said District Attorney Harrington.

Alice Hardison is the Crime Victims Assistance Coordinator for the District Attorney’s Office.

“If someone is in fear of harm by another person, our first priority is to help them get protection. We assist them in filing a civil protective order with the district court and will make sure the process is done efficiently and expediently as possible,” said Hardison.

Citizens may contact the Hardison for assistance by call (318) 357-2214 or in case of emergency, call 911.

“We want to use every resource we have to prevent and deter domestic violence crimes in our parish,” said District Attorney Harrington.