Jurors hear graphic testimony in Matt Ainsworth assault trial

Published 9:57 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  Matt Ainsworth listens to testimony in court on Monday. Ainsworth is charged with two counts of aggravated assault after allegedly attacking his ex-girlfriend and her neighbor.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Matthew Ainsworth listens to testimony in court on Monday. Ainsworth is charged with two counts of aggravated assault after allegedly attacking his ex-girlfriend and her neighbor.

Jurors in the trial of a former Carter County deputy, charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend and her neighbor, heard testimony from both victims as well as the defendant on Wednesday.

A Carter County Grand Jury indicted Matt Ainsworth in November 2013 on two counts of aggravated assault following an incident in October of that year when he allegedly assaulted and strangled his ex-girlfriend Susan Olive and then assaulted her neighbor, Dennis Bennett, after Olive ran to Bennett’s home.

Both Olive and Bennett took the stand to testify about what happened during the morning hours on Oct. 6, 2013.

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That morning, Olive said she was awakened by Ainsworth beating on her front door, and she had broken up with him about two weeks earlier. When she unlocked the door, Olive said Ainsworth barged into her apartment and began accusing her of having sex with someone.

“He pushed me down and got on top of me,” she said, adding he hit her with his fists and choked her. “He choked me so hard I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t speak.”

When asked what was going through her mind when Ainsworth began to choke her, Olive replied that she thought “that I was going to die this time.” It was not the first time Ainsworth had beaten her up, Olive said.

During Olive’s testimony, the jury saw photographs of her injuries. Carter County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Jan Black testified Olive suffered a black eye, swelling and redness to her face and ears, bruises on her arms and legs and red marks to her neck that Black described as looking “like a handprint.”

After several minutes, Olive said she was able to get out of her apartment and run to Bennett’s home for help.

As part of his testimony, Bennett said Olive beat on his door that morning, “yelling someone was trying to kill her.” When he opened the door, he said he noticed Olive had an injury to her face and blood appeared to be coming from her left ear.

“I waited for my wife to come in there and I told them to call 911 and I would go and get the tag number,” Bennett said, adding he walked outside, looked at the tag number and turned to go back to his apartment when he was struck from behind. “And that’s the last thing I remember,” he said.

Bennett was taken to a local hospital and diagnosed as having a concussion and a broken nose. He was also given discharge care instructions for a fractured jaw, Bennett said.

Since that day, Bennett said he has had trouble breathing and has suffered from memory problems.

Bennett’s wife, Tina Bennett, also testified.

“I saw her standing there and she had blood all in her hair. It was all over the side of her face and it looked like it was coming out of her ear,” Tina Bennett said, adding Olive was “extremely frightened.”

While the two women stood inside the Bennett home talking, Dennis Bennett stepped outside.

“We looked out and saw Matt Ainsworth beating Dennis,” Tina Bennett said. “I don’t know if he was straddling (Dennis Bennett) or if he was down on one knee. All I saw was both fists just pounding.”

Ainsworth took the stand in his own defense on Wednesday and told his version of the events of that morning.

The night before, Ainsworth said he had been drinking at a party at the home of a friend and when he returned home, he found Olive’s cat in his apartment. He then drove over to her apartment to return the cat and an argument ensued, he said.

During his testimony, Ainsworth denied assaulting Olive, on that day or any other occasion, but he did say he assaulted Bennett in self defense.

While at Olive’s apartment that morning, Ainsworth said the two of them had argued and she walked outside and headed toward Bennett’s home. At that time, Ainsworth said he returned to his truck to leave when Bennett “came sprinting toward my truck at full charge.”

Bennett began to beat on the truck with his fists, Ainsworth said, adding Bennett blocked him from leaving.

When he got out of the truck to tell Bennett to move, Ainsworth said Bennett approached him with clinched fists. “So I hit him before he could hit me,” he said.

The trial, initially expected to last one day, carried over and will continue today with the defense presenting the rest of its case.