A man is serving a yearlong sentence at the Orange County Jail for what experts say is a textbook case of domestic violence.
Authorities said surveillance video shows Willie Hills walking into an elevator with his girlfriend of two years. As soon as the doors close, the man is seen putting his hands around her throat and choking her.
12 seconds later, the woman falls to the ground and is apparently unconscious. When the elevators doors open again, authorities said Hills is seen dragging her limp body out of the elevator and waiting for her to get back up.
“I plead no contest, your honor,” Hills said in court.
Local 6’s Mike Deforest reported Friday the victim did not want her boyfriend to go to jail. In fact, the victim wrote a letter to the court and pleaded with the judge to not send Willie Hills to jail. The woman said she had only been abused by him once and was not afraid of him.
Judge Marc Lubet read the victim's letter in court: “The guy has never been violent with me. I want to continue to have contact with him on a daily basis.”
In an audio recording of a phone call Hills made to his girlfriend from jail, Hills can be heard saying, “If you love me, you would, I'm not saying you would accept certain things. But if you love me, it would be worth another try.”
Carol Wick runs the domestic violence shelter Harbor House. Wick said it’s common for abusers to call their victims from jail and manipulate them.
“Even if the person has been severely injured or almost killed, that person somehow believes it was their fault,” said Wick.
Until his recent termination, Hills was a high-ranking investment banker with Fifth Third Bank. His co-workers testified about his upstanding character. According to Wick, abusers often go undetected in society.
“The only people that witness it are people they want to witness it, unless there happens to be a hidden camera somewhere,” said Wick.
After the holidays, when the parties are over and bills become due, experts say the number of domestic violence cases increases dramatically.
That’s why advocates for domestic violence victims are urging everyone to take complaints and hints about possible abuse seriously.