LAS VEGAS – The husband of a former Nevada state judge was sentenced Wednesday to three to 10 years in prison for hitting his wife in the head with a frying pan at their home.
Before he was sentenced, Edward Lee Halverson, 49, stunned a Las Vegas courtroom by saying he "clocked" former judge Elizabeth Halverson on Sept. 4 because she threatened to stab him.
"If she wouldn't have pulled a knife on me and threatened me, I wouldn't have clocked her," Halverson said, standing in shackles before the judge. "I defended myself."
Elizabeth Halverson, who was banned from the bench for mishandling cases and mistreating staff, uses bottled oxygen and a motorized scooter.
"You didn't 'clock' your wife," Clark County District Court Judge David Barker replied. "You beat your wife. To the point where I saw multiple lacerations on her. The description provided of the crime scene was more than a simple 'clock."'
Halverson's self-defense claim contradicted what he told the judge when he pleaded an equivalent of no contest on Oct. 24 to battery domestic violence with use of a weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm. He said at the time that he couldn't remember hitting his wife.
Elizabeth Halverson, 51, denied she had a knife and asked the judge to reject the plea deal.
"There was no knife in the room. That's the first I heard of it," said the former judge, removing a straw hat to show scars on her head and around her right eye.
Elizabeth Halverson said she is having difficulty recovering from head, hand and leg injuries after being hospitalized for more than two weeks.
"It's not right," she said, sobbing. "The doctors are saying it's going to take months and months for my head to be better. I'm going to spend more time than this man is going to spend. How is this justice? Three years doesn't begin to make sense."
Halverson's mother, Maria Veimau, 73, of San Francisco, pleaded with the judge to impose the maximum sentence on her son-in-law for what she called an attempt to murder her daughter.
Halverson, who was dismissed as a state judge Nov. 17 by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, said she has been unable to read, write or concentrate enough to work. She said later she can no longer pay two lawyers she hired to represent her during plea negotiations.
The judge stuck with the plea deal under which the state dropped an attempted murder charge in exchange for a so-called Alford plea, in which Edward Halverson acknowledged the state had evidence to prove the remaining charge against him. He could have faced three to 40 years in prison if convicted of attempted murder with a weapon.
Barker also briefly referred to Edward Halverson's 1988 criminal conviction for cocaine possession in Texas and noted that it will be up to a parole board to determine when he gets out of prison.
Elizabeth Halverson was elected to the bench in 2006, but served only a few months before she was suspended with pay in July 2007.
Halverson faced televised public hearings in August on a laundry list of allegations, including that she had a court bailiff rub her feet, improperly met with jurors, let her personal bodyguards bypass courthouse security, fell asleep on the bench and had her husband sworn in to ask if he'd completed household chores. She blamed accusations against her on vindictive colleagues and disgruntled employees.
The judicial commission permanently barred her from the bench. Outside court, Halverson said she did not know the status of her appeal.
Her lawyer in that case, Michael Schwartz of Farmington Hills, Mich., did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.