A veteran Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy convicted in October of assaulting his girlfriend for days--after she confronted him in Anaheim on Christmas Day for banging a second woman--was sentenced today to
two years* one year in state prison.
However, Mark Eric Hibner, a 22-year vet of the LASO, will only do 75 more days in jail because he was given credit for time already served behind bars.
The maximum penalty others face after being convicted on two counts of domestic battery with corporal injury and three counts of making criminal threats (all felonies): seven years and four months.
The rationale, as reported in court today by City News Service's Paul Anderson:
Orange County Superior Court Judge W. Michael Hayes said he opted to keep Hibner in jail where he could receive more counseling for anger management issues.
Hibner, who brought a Bible to court with him, was given credit for 216 days behind bars, meaning he has about 75 more days to go before he is released. Hayes ordered Hibner to serve five years of formal probation.
Hibner also must participate in a one-year "batterers treatment" program, according to Deputy District Attorney Lori Smith.
Smith advocated for Hibner to serve time in prison while the defendant's attorney, Thomas Szakall, asked the judge for probation so he has "the opportunity to cure the real problem with psychotherapy. ... Any further punishment is unnecessary."
Szakall said his client suffered stress on the job in his 22 years with the department. Hayes was unsympathetic.
"Frankly, that insults the vast amount of people in law enforcement who go out there every day" and don't abuse family or friends while off-duty, Hayes said. "This isn't a new problem with him. It's a long-standing problem."
Hayes also noted that domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous ones for police to handle.
Hibner did not dispute an order to pay $2,000 restitution to a fund for crime victims.
"I'll just pay it. That's fine, sir," Hibner said.
When Smith raised the issue of about $15,000 more in restitution demanded from victims, Hibner's attorney requested a hearing to contest the amount.
Mercy, if Hibner has to pay $15k, that might cut into Szakall's payday!
Hibner had been in a romantic relationship with the woman he assaulted for several years before, on Dec. 25, 2012, they argued after she discovered a sexually suggestive voicemail from another woman on his cell phone. The argument continued into the next day, when Hibner hit her, grabbed her hair, spit on her, threw a lit cigarette at her and punched her in the chest.
Three days later, Hibner grabbed his beloved by the hair, pulling it side to side, and calling her derogatory names. He also pushed her onto a bed, straddled her, pinned her down with his knees on her shoulders and covered her mouth with his hand so hard she was left with teeth marks inside her mouth. Hibner repeatedly swore at the woman and threatened to kill her.
The next day, Dec. 30, Hibner dragged the woman through their living room by her hair, threw her on the floor, straddled her and choked her with his forearm across her throat, before covering her mouth, pinching her nose and threatening to make her pass out. She responded by crying, begging him to stop and banging her foot on the floor to wake the neighbors. Hibner responded to that by spitting on her, throwing a lit cigarette at her and calling her derogatory names.
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When Hibner's by-then ex-girlfriend met with him two months later for a child custody exchange--they have a minor child together--the deputy threatened to kill her if she appeared in court at a hearing scheduled for two days later. The woman planned to take out a restraining order against him.
Amazingly, considering what's been going on at the LASO, Hibner was relieved of duty without pay due to the conviction.
*Corrected from original post that had Hibner getting two years.