Bond denied in aggravated assault case

Jan. 16—Conasauga Judicial Circuit Judge Cindy Morris denied a motion to set bond for a 55-year-old man charged with aggravated assault in Whitfield Superior Court on Friday, Jan. 12.

According to Whitfield County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) data, defendant Alan Matthew Lassetter is also accused of possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a felony, third-degree cruelty to children and simple battery (family violence).

WCSO records indicate Lassetter was initially arrested on Dec. 31, 2023.

Conasauga Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Michael E. Harty represented the State in Friday's proceedings. Lassetter was represented by attorney Ian Whittle.

"Mr. Lassetter was in Magistrate Court and the issue of bond was taken up," Harty told the court. "The Magistrate Court found that he was a danger to the persons and property; the State will concede that that was on a Sunday, he was not represented by counsel ... that was less than two weeks ago."

Whittle said that was a first appearance bond hearing.

"The Superior Court can always hear a motion for bond after the magistrate does," he said. "Once the individual is represented."

Whittle said his client resides in Rocky Face and has lived in the area for over 40 years.

"He's a small business owner," he continued. "He has no previous felonies, judge — he does have previous misdemeanor convictions, there are five of those. Four of which are traffic, and they are all over 20 years ago."

Whittle recounted the allegations to the court.

"There was an argument where Mr. Lassetter struck the back of the head of (the alleged victim) with a flashlight and then grabbed her neck and pushed her against the wall, which left a hole in the wall," he said.

A 20-year-old and a 14-year-old in the residence "intervened," Whittle continued, and the defendant purportedly left the scene.

"Regarding the charges of the firearm, there is not an allegation that there was a firearm used in this case," Whittle said. "I think it may be in response to a police question of 'Is Mr. Lassetter armed or does he go armed?' and somebody said he carries a gun in his waistband and has a gun in his truck."

As a condition of probation, Whittle said his client was willing to "relinquish any firearms" while awaiting the resolution of the case.

Whittle said that his client was not a risk to flee the jurisdiction. Nor did he describe him as a "significant danger or threat" to the community or likely to commit a felony if granted bond.

Whittle asked the court to allow his client and the named victim to be allowed to communicate via text "so that they can communicate regarding finances and the children, if need be."

The accusations are "particularly violent," Harty told the court.

"The flashlight to the back of the head is one thing, and then there was strangulation with both hands to the point this victim blacked out," he said.

Harty also claimed the defendant placed his hands around the neck of another alleged victim — "who was scheduled for heart surgery (Jan. 11)."

Harty told the court that the alleged incident began with an argument over batteries in a thermostat.

"He was so outraged that he didn't believe that the batteries were changed, he made her dump out the trash and go through the trash and show him that she changed the batteries," he said. "If that little spark was able to bring this onslaught of violence, what is a divorce or a separation going to do?"

Whittle said he took offense to Harty's remarks, describing them in court as "a slippery slope fallacy."

Judge Morris cited "the extreme level of violence" involved in the accusation as her rationale for denying the bond motion.

"Against not just one but two people," she said. "And given the presence of a firearm — which adds to the lethality factor significantly, as is the strangulation allegations, both of those are significant value factors — I'll find that he's a risk to the victim should he be released on bond."