An Aiken man was sentenced to eight years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to stabbing a man in his Jehossee Drive home last year.
Joshua Eichman, 23, pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Tommy Russo to eight years in prison. Eichman already was on probation stemming from a previous grand larceny charge, and was sentenced to an additional two years for the probation violation, with the sentences running consecutively. He must serve at least 85 percent of the 10 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Eichman was set to stand trial for attempted murder, and a jury was prepared to hear opening statements on Tuesday, but Eichman decided on Tuesday morning to plead guilty to the lesser charges.
The stabbing incident happened at about 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2013, at an apartment on the 300 block of Jehossee Drive in Aiken, according to Assistant Solicitor Sam Grimes. The victim, 31-year-old Alphonzo Andrews, was with a female witness in the living room of the apartment when they heard a noise come from the back of the home.
Andrews went to investigate the sound, found Eichman standing in a bedroom and asked what he was doing there, Grimes said.
“At that point, the defendant attacked him. The two of them fought and struggled,” Grimes said.
The female witness went to investigate the ruckus and saw Andrews bleeding heavily, Grimes said. She was able to drag him out of the home and two doors down to his stepfather's home. Paramedics took Andrews, who was unresponsive and in critical condition, to Georgia Regents Medical Center, where he was treated for multiple stab wounds that included lung punctures.
Officers from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office on the scene determined that Eichman was the suspect, Grimes said. They were then contacted by Aiken Regional Medical Centers and told that Eichman was there seeking treatment for injuries.
“He didn't tell them he was involved in this assault,” Grimes said. “He made up a story about walking down the road, somebody giving him a ride, and when they let him out of the car, he was beat up by some people.”
When asked by Russo if the facts were correct, Eichman replied: “In a way, your honor.”
“As far as me stabbing him, I did,” he said. “I was in fear for my life.”
Eichman's attorney, Wallis Alves, told the court that Eichman and Andrews met sometime last year and decided that Eichman would move in with Andrews.
“At some point, he and Mr. Andrews had a dispute, and Mr. Andrews told him that he would have to find some place else to go,” Alves said, adding that Eichman stayed with a friend temporarily. “He decided to go back into the apartment, not with the intention of trying to kill Mr. Andrews, but to get the rest of his belongings that were present at the apartment.”
While living at the home, Eichman never had a key, and entered and exited the apartment through a bedroom window, Alves said. Eichman entered the home the same way on the night of the attack to retrieve his possessions, and reportedly didn't know Andrews was home.
Eichman's mother addressed the court in her son's defense.
“He's never been violent to anybody,” she said. “He's never hurt anybody. He's never been in trouble for fighting. This is the first time this has ever happened.”
Eichman himself addressed the court, as well as Andrews.
“I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart for what I did,” he said. “I wish I could take it back, but I can't. I just hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
Assistant Solicitor Nick McCarley also prosecuted the case.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.