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Cracker Barrel

VIA: AJC.com

A judge granted bond for a South Georgia man charged with attacking an Army reservist outside a Morrow Cracker Barrel.

Troy Dale West Jr., 47, is now being held in the Clayton County jail on a $320,500 bond, Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said Tuesday.

uperior Court Judge Geronda V. Carter spent several hours reviewing witness statements Tuesday before agreeing to release West as long as he wears an ankle monitor.

The judge ordered West to not return to Clayton, except for court appearances or to drive through on I-75. He also must surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim or witnesses, according to the judge’s order.

West has been in jail since Sept. 23 when a Clayton County grand jury indicted him on felony charges, including aggravated assault, false imprisonment and first-degree cruelty to children. He also faces misdemeanor charges of battery and disorderly conduct.

The judge’s decision came despite pleas from the district attorney to keep West in jail. Lawson, who is prosecuting the case herself, argued that West is a flight risk and a danger to the community.

“You don’t get to beat a woman down, kick her like she’s a dog in front of her child and call her all that stuff,” Lawson told the judge.

Prosecutors say West beat and kicked Tashawnea Hill as she was coming out of the restaurant. Her 7-year-old daughter watched as West attacked the mother while yelling racial slurs, prosecutors said.

West became enraged when Hill told him that he almost hit her daughter with the door while leaving the restaurant, prosecutors say.

West’s lawyer,  Tony Axam, said Hill threatened and spit on West, prompting the attack.

“It is regrettable,” Axam told the judge. “There should have not been a threat, should have not been spitting and probably on hindsight, there should not have been a striking.”

Axam argued that the only reason his client is still in jail is because he attacked a black woman.

“He happens to be a man who struck a woman. The woman happens to be black and he happens to be white,” said Axam, who is black.

Axam asked the judge to release West, saying he needs to be home with his wife, who was injured in a car crash several years ago. West’s wife, pastor and several friends testified Tuesday that he needs to be home and is not a flight risk.

“I need him home. I can’t drive,” West’s wife, Sharon West, told the judge. “It’s hard for me to get out. I’m missing doctors’ appointments and church.”

Prosecutors said they feel West is a danger to the community because he has a history of violence.

In 1998, West was charged with simple battery and terroristic threats after he attacked a cashier at a K-Mart in Tifton, said Dennis Baker, chief administrator for the district attorney.

According to Baker, West created phony receipts showing he had purchased Matchbox cars at other K-Marts for 59 cents. He argued with the cashier that the price of the cars should be lowered.

When the cashier denied the request, West got into a dispute with him, Baker told the judge.

“The defendant pushed him [the cashier] against a telephone booth and said he would kill him,” Baker said.

The cashier called the police and West fled, Baker said. Police arrested West at a nearby Waffle House, where he was hiding in the bathroom with a loaded pistol, according to Baker.

The case was later dismissed after the records could not be located.

“He left the scene. He had to be apprehended by police,” Lawson said. “He has a habit of hiding out.”

West runs Troy’s Paint & Body & Auto Savage in Poulan, about 25 miles east of Albany, where he lives with his wife.

The FBI is also investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.

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