Domestic violence victim from Girard tells her story
WARREN — It’s been more than 16 months since the former boyfriend of a Girard woman beat her so badly that she had to have facial reconstructive surgery.
Carly Diamond, 32, said she had a child with the offender more than four years ago and the two spent about 10 years in a relationship. Diamond said she filed a protection order against him when his behavior became violent.
The order was granted, but it didn’t stop Ricco Acevedo, 38, from coming to her home June 4, 2015, on Howard Street in Girard, demanding to see their son, while a relative watched the child as Diamond prepared for an interview, she said.
When she told him “no” and that she would call police to report the violation if he didn’t leave, she said, “he lost it.”
“My entire eye socket fell apart. I was in the hospital for days,” Diamond said. “There was so much swelling, surgeons couldn’t even open my eye to see what damage there was to my eyeball. I couldn’t even open my mouth (for two months).”
Diamond said Acevedo, with addresses in Youngstown and Struthers, is a registered heavyweight fighter and Mixed Martial Arts fighter. He pummeled her face six or seven times, kicked her, strangled her and took off with her phone and bank card, she said. When he left, Diamond said she drove herself to the police department.
“The proof is in the photographs. You can see the fingerprints, the bruising around my neck. And he robbed me, left me with no way to call 911. When I regained consciousness, I couldn’t even ask for help,” Diamond said.
A warrant was issued by Girard police charging him with domestic violence, felonious assault, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and violating a protective order, and U.S. marshals helped bring him in.
After pleading guilty in March to an amended indictment on charges of domestic violence, felonious assault, burglary and violating a protection order in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, Acevedo was sentenced to six years behind bars for the incident.
“My son is only 4, and he knows his dad is in jail for punching and breaking his mommy’s eye. He tells kids at school, and because the families of (Acevedo’s) other kids look at me like I sent their dad to prison, my son doesn’t even get to have a relationship with his siblings,” Diamond said. “But I didn’t do that to them, he did that to himself.”
The pattern of abuse is a familiar one, said Trumbull County assistant prosecutor Gabe Wildman, who prosecutes many domestic violence cases, including Acevedo’s.
Diamond said she tried to stop the pattern with court interventions. When Diamond was beaten, Acevedo already was on probation for a June 2014 incident at Diamond’s residence in which he pleaded no contest to criminal trespassing, menacing, resisting arrest and possession of drug abuse instruments. He was given a mostly suspended jail sentence of 90 days.
After a probation violation in August 2014, when Acevedo harassed Diamond on social media, he was charged with telecommunication harassment and Acevedo was sent back to jail on that violation in December 2014, until he was released in March 2015.
In the past, Acevedo body slammed her, strangled her, picked her up by the throat and even bit her on the face, Diamond said.
Diamond, who worked closely with prosecutors and police, said Acevedo was facing 40 years after the incident that broke one of her orbital sockets in multiple places, and caused fractures all over her face.
“Half my face is numb from what might be permanent nerve damage, I will never be the same. I’ve got infections from the fractures, because of how my sinuses drain now, those things are always going to be there. I still need another surgery because my jaw doesn’t open correctly, but I don’t know if I have the strength to go through another surgery,” Diamond said. “I lost my identity.”
She said her jaw was wired shut, and she lost her job because she went back, maybe too soon, and couldn’t concentrate. A boss told her to keep her personal life and work life separate, which is something that Diamond said was hard to do when her jaw was wired shut and she was hyper-aware of what happened to her.
As the case made its way through court, Diamond’s pain manifested in other ways, when she found herself using illegal drugs and ended up facing charges in Girard Municipal Court.
“I was in a downhill spiral and wasn’t sure how to come out of it,” Diamond said. “I was attacked and I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know what to do and I just tried to shut down. I got overwhelmed, I couldn’t make decisions anymore and I made mistakes, things I wouldn’t have done before and things I wouldn’t do now.”
After some time in the Trumbull County Jail, Diamond said she is on the mend and receiving the type of counseling she needs.
However, she said she feels let down by the sentence and the court system. Diamond asked the court to sentence Acevedo to 15 of the 40 years he was eligible for under the charges.
The time would have allowed the son she shares with Acevedo to age, so the boy would be an adult when his father got out of jail.
“I wanted my son to be able to navigate his relationship with his dad without involving me,” Diamond said.
But a few days before the trial was to begin, less than a week before Diamond herself was released from jail on the drug charges, Acevedo took a plea bargain.
“I’m upset, I’m angry about the whole thing. I didn’t know, no one told me. I didn’t get to read my victim impact statement. They didn’t go over the presentence investigation, with all of his other criminal history,” Diamond said. “Six years is a slap on the wrist, with his history, with him being a trained fighter.”
Acevedo also sent her letters from jail, which is a violation of the protection order, Diamond said.
Wildman said Diamond is a “good person, a true victim” and Acevedo is “obviously a bad guy, and deserved punishment.” But, Wildman said, Acevedo had a different story, claiming he hit Diamond once or twice after a fight over drugs.
Diamond might have had to testify in “prison orange” Wildman said, and the prosecution had to calculate what move was most likely to end in prison time.
“When the court is dealing with the types of injuries Carly sustained, there is no real way to ever make her completely whole. I do think six years is in line with other cases with similar situations,” Wildman said.
Diamond’s victim impact statement was on file with the court, Wildman said.
“With a trial there is no certainty, there is no guarantee of jail time, no guarantee the defendant won’t just walk out of the court room laughing, and sometimes we have to make those strategic decisions,” Wildman said.
He said 80 to 90 percent of domestic violence cases end with no jail time, and the plea ensures Acevedo won’t harm Diamond or anyone else for at least six years.