Vancouver man receives 10-year sentence for domestic violence

He pleaded to lesser charges after facing 30 years in prison

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: March 8, 2011, 6:15 PM

 

A Vancouver man was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for numerous domestic violence-related charges, though he would have faced at least 30 years had he gone to trial and been convicted on a charge of solicitation to commit murder.

Terrence C. Herndon pleaded guilty Monday to 19 charges relating to an assault on his wife and ensuing no-contact order violations. Other charges included tampering with a witness.

Last week, prosecutors added charges that alleged that Herndon, 32, tried to enlist a hit man to kill his wife and burn down her house.

He was set to go to trial Monday on 23 charges, including solicitation to commit first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree arson.

Prosecutors dropped those most serious charges in a plea deal with Herndon.

Defense attorney Suzan Clark told Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis that her client, who has an extensive criminal history, would have faced a 30-year minimum sentence had he been convicted.

“That risk was too great,” Clark said.

Clark and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield agreed to recommend an exceptional sentence, and the judge imposed the punishment.

Banfield said the initial allegations — choking his wife in October and other assault claims — would have only netted a 50-month sentence. The case snowballed when Herndon repeatedly contacted his wife or had others contact her to try to dissuade her from testifying against him.

It escalated between Jan. 15 and Feb. 2, when Herndon was alleged to have asked a fellow jail inmate to go to his wife’s house, wait until she was asleep and then light her couch on fire. The inmate was told to leave a love letter from Herndon at the house, so that investigators wouldn’t suspect Herndon.

In exchange for the killing, Banfield earlier said that Herndon offered the inmate immunity from Herndon’s gang, the Hoover Crips, and the ability to take part in an illegal scam operation involving the Internal Revenue Service.

The inmate alerted a detective before anything happened, Banfield said.

The deputy prosecutor said she was pleased Herndon took responsibility for his actions and avoided a trial, where his wife and children would have had to testify.

Herndon will receive credit for 138 days he’s spent in the Clark County Jail.