A Pennsylvania man, who drove his car into his estranged wife's car while seemingly attempting to strike his two stepdaughters in a bizarre domestic violence incident in Darien last August, was sentenced to 14 months in jail Friday at the Stamford courthouse.
Hollis Ross, 69, of Collegeville, Pa., was sentenced after pleading guilty six weeks ago to reduced charges of criminal violation of a restraining order and attempted second-degree assault with a motor vehicle. Ross was originally charged with two counts of first-degree attempted manslaughter, first-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree criminal mischief, driving under the influence of liquor and/or drugs, and breach of peace.
He has been held in lieu of a $500,000 court appearance bond since his arrest right after the Aug. 11 incident.
Ross was given a four-year jail sentence, that will be suspended after he serves 14 months. He will be placed on probation for four years after his release and could be made to serve all or some of his two-year, 10-month suspended sentence if he violates probation.
After requesting that Judge Richard Comerford ask Ross to face her while she read a letter to her ex-husband, Joyce Morgan asked, "The family wants to know what we have ever done to you to put us through this nightmare after the kindness and love we have shown you over 25 years."
Morgan then accused Ross, who looked bent and disheveled while wearing a bright orange prison jump suit, of not taking responsibility for his actions over the past eight months, preferring to blame the incident on his drinking and other problems. She asked why, if he claimed to come to Darien to patch up their relationship, he had a hammer in his car.
Police said after he smashed his car into his wife's car early that August afternoon, Ross got out of his car holding a yellow framing hammer and started smashing the windows of his wife's vehicle. His stepdaughters ran into their 21 Casement St. house and locked the door while another family member called 911. They subsequently told police they believed Ross was trying to hit them with his car as well.
Ross surrendered without incident when police arrived. He told them he had been drinking and failed a field sobriety test, the report stated.
The two females "narrowly escaped" being hit by diving into the bushes along the driveway, police said, and a bystander was also endangered. Both vehicles were heavily damaged.
At the hearing Morgan told Ross, "You ruined my life Hollis, what was my life then. But you won't do it again."
After being asked by Judge Richard Comerford if he had anything to say, Ross said, "I'm so sorry. If I could make it up to you ... I'd give anything to do that. You gave me and my kids a real family."
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Richard Colangelo pressed for a 25-year criminal restraining order prohibiting Ross from coming into contact with his ex-wife, stepdaughters and other family members. After signing the restraining order, Comerford also required Ross to undergo drug and alcohol counseling, anger management treatment, mental health counseling and domestic violence counseling.
Ross' defense attorney Kevin Black said his client would abide by the restraining order and will never come near the family again. He said that Ross understands that his life as he knew it was over as a result of his actions last August and has expressed his remorse for his actions that day.
At the end of the hearing, Comerford reflected on the situation.
"How terribly sad ... the actions of one may that put his family in the circles of hell for so long. What that family has to live with. It cannot be repaired," Comerford said.