Victim forgives defendant in aggravated assault sentencing hearing

Peachtree City resident Terrence Orlando Manning was sentenced to 20 years of probation and had to surrender his firearms license Thursday in Superior Court Judge Tommy Hankinson’s courtroom after pleading guilty to two aggravated assault charges and two charges of Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony.
The charges, to which Manning pled guilty on Tuesday, date back to Feb. 6 when a case of “road rage” resulted in Manning pointing a gun a few times at two men in a car next to him on Hwy. 54 near Piedmont Fayette Hospital.
According to Charles Joiner, who was driving the vehicle next to Manning, the incident started in rush hour traffic when Manning drove so close to his bumper that he couldn’t see Manning’s headlights. Joiner said he tapped his brakes to get Manning’s attention.
Manning then, according to his own confession, lost his cool and shouted obscenities at Joiner and his passenger Andrew Jones. Joiner admitted he swore back at Manning, but he said he didn’t expect Manning to then threaten them with a gun.
According to Joiner’s testimony, Joiner slowed down to allow Manning to drive a safe distance away, but he said he kept following at a distance so he could keep the 9-1-1 dispatcher aware of Manning’s location. Joiner said when Manning drove to the Peachtree City Library parking, he drove down the road a bit and stopped to wait for police to arrive. He said that’s when Manning rolled up, got out of his vehicle, and approached his car again with the gun.
Manning, who works for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, asked for and was granted First Offender status, which means he will not be considered a felon so long as he stays out of trouble during his entire 20-year probation period. Joiner said he was happy with the sentencing, mostly because Manning will not be allowed to have a firearm during his probation period.
“I didn’t want the man to lose his job,” Joiner said after the sentencing hearing.
During the hearing, a mournful Manning publicly apologized for his behavior, and Joiner accepted his apology.
Though Manning himself was ordered by Judge Hankinson to keep away from Joiner, Manning’s family was seen after the hearing hugging and thanking Joiner for not pushing for prison time and a felony conviction.
“We all make mistakes,” Joiner said.
Hankinson accepted Manning’s guilty plea on Tuesday but said he wanted to hear from the victims before sentencing Manning. The district attorney’s office had recommended a five-year sentence, with one to serve and the other four on probation, but Joiner said he didn’t want to see Manning go to jail over the incident.

Danny Harrison

Danny Harrison, a 1992 Fayette High School graduate, began his journalism career with Fayette County News in 1995. After taking several leaves of absence to pursue journalism and Christian ministry opportunities, including a few out of state and overseas, he returned full-time to Fayette County News in August 2014. Harrison earned a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry in 2009 while serving as a missionary journalist in England and Western Europe.