SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A man accused of using scissors to mutilate his ex-girlfriend's breasts was sentenced Tuesday to 45 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible.
Tony Deval Ledbetter, 46, pleaded guilty in August to three counts of aggravated assault for choking and strangling his ex-girlfriend and using scissors to cut her nipples.
The survivor gave a powerful, gruesomely detailed statement of what happened that night during Tuesday's court appearance in Lincoln County, and she shared how her injuries have affected her physically and emotionally.
“He told me he was a nice guy," she said. "Nice guys don’t do this.”
She addressed Ledbetter directly at one point, saying, "Do you feel like a man?"
He did not look up at her during her statement.
Ledbetter also gave a statement of apology, and he once again admitted his guilt.
“I apologize to the court and to (the victim)," Ledbetter said. “I don’t believe in violence. ... It’s hard to fathom this happened. It will never happen again. I don’t seek violence.”
Ledbetter was arrested in October 2016 after he assaulted the woman, who was pregnant with his child. He admitted the assault to police but said it was in self-defense.
Ledbetter had asked to speak with the victim about their relationship at her apartment. She had agreed to speak with him before a friend came over to check out her new apartment, she said to the court.
The two had been arguing about their relationship when Ledbetter punched her and slammed her head on the ground, police said. He also tried to stop her screaming by pushing on her throat with his forearm and stuffing a blanket in her mouth.
Then, while she was unconscious, he grabbed a pair of scissors and cut off one of her nipples. She awoke to see Ledbetter take the scissors and cut her other breast, she said. She was able to break free and go to the hospital, where she learned the unborn baby was OK.
Ledbetter knew she wanted to nurse the child, the survivor said.
The victim in her statement shared tendencies of controlling, obsessive behavior from Ledbetter. She said he would not move out of her apartment when asked and constantly had to know where she was. He had even driven by her work to check her location.
"Because I was strong enough to say, 'Enough is enough,' I almost paid the ultimate price. I was nearly killed for what? Asking for my space?" she said in her statement to the court.
Judge Doug Hoffman shared details regarding some of Ledbetter's past arrests, involving breaking into women's homes, damaging their property, vandalizing their cars and using their credit cards.
Hoffman went against the plea agreement of a 30-year cap and imposed the maximum 45 years and ordered no contact with the victim and her child, saying he felt it was the most appropriate for the community and the survivors.