NEW PORT RICHEY — Daniel Lee Stuckey was convicted last month of attacking his wife with a hatchet, screaming "Die, bitch!" as his terrified daughters looked on.
At his sentencing hearing Friday, Stuckey insisted he meant no harm.
"I'm really ashamed of what happened with my family, but I wasn't trying to cause no harm," he said.
Circuit Judge Michael Andrews was unmoved.
"You hit somebody with a hatchet. How can you say you weren't trying to cause harm?" the judge asked as he handed Stuckey a sentence of five years in prison, followed by three years of probation, for the aggravated battery conviction.
He had faced a maximum of 15 years. A jury acquitted Stuckey of attempted murder.
At the trial in March, Antoinette Stuckey testified that she worked a double shift at her job as a certified nursing assistant in Clearwater on June 8, 2009. Midway through, she got a call from her husband. He was agitated, she said.
"Daniel said, he asked me, 'Did you tell Danielle to call 911 on me?' " she testified. Mrs. Stuckey said she had told her daughter to call the authorities if her father became violent.
"And I said, 'Yeah, I told you not to touch her when you're drinking,'" Mrs. Stuckey testified. "Apparently (they) had gotten into an argument, and he told Danielle he would hit her upside the head."
She cut the phone call short.
Late that night, when she got home from work, she said, her daughters were sleeping in her bed. She and her husband were estranged but still sharing their home on Old Orchard Lane until he found his own place.
She showered and went to bed but soon awoke to screams and a sharp pain in her head. When the light came on, her husband was standing there with a crazed look, swinging a hatchet at her, she said.
She needed multiple stitches for wounds on her head and arm.
Stuckey also testified, saying the argument with his wife had been over the parenting of their daughters. He said he had the hatchet because he had been cleaning carpets that day and using it to lift and move furniture.
When he went into the bedroom, they began to argue, and he may have dropped the hatchet on her arm, he said.
"I never once swung that ax at Antoinette," he testified.
Andrews didn't buy it.
"I've moved a lot of furniture in my time," the judge said. "I've never had a cause to use a hatchet. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever."
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.