FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sept. 19, 2016
Mandeville Man Found Guilty of Aggravated Second-Degree Battery
COVINGTON—A St. Tammany Parish jury convicted Hardy Cornwell, 48, of Mandeville, of aggravated second-degree battery and attempted false imprisonment Thursday (Sept. 15) for severely beating his ex-girlfriend and restraining her with duct tape earlier this year on his boat at Marina Beau Chene. He faces up to 30 years in prison if he is charged as a multiple offender when he goes before District Judge Scott Gardner for sentencing on Sept. 26.
The crime was discovered March 8, after the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office received a report that the victim may be in danger and sent detectives to Cornwell’s boat to check on her. Cornwell initially refused to respond to the detectives’ knock on the side of the boat. But when the officer saw Cornwell through an open window, Cornwell complied and opened the hatch.
During questioning, Cornwell initially denied that the victim was in the boat. But officers heard a female voice crying out for help from inside. An officer entered the cabin, where he found the victim with a bruised and bloody face and duct tape stuck to her hair. She also had a fresh head wound, which later required eight surgical staples at the hospital.
The victim told officers that she had come to her ex-boyfriend’s boat the previous night, and that at one point the ex-boyfriend became enraged and attacked her. She told police that he held a knife to her neck and threatened to kill her, put duct tape around her head, covering her eyes and mouth, bound her wrists, beat her, and stabbed her in the hand with a filet knife.
The jury rejected Cornwell’s claims that he was not the one who inflicted her injuries and that he bound her because they sometimes engaged in unusual sexual behavior. But the jury reduced the false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon charge to attempted false imprisonment, which is a misdemeanor.
Assistant District Attorneys Casey Dieck and Jerry Smith prosecuted the case.
Cornwell has at least one prior conviction for manslaughter in Oklahoma in 2002, for which he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was released after serving about nine years.