Prison for Kingsford man in assault


IRON MOUNTAIN — A judge ordered a minimum eight-year prison sentence Tuesday for a Kingsford man convicted by jury of felony assault for breaking his girlfriend’s rib and rupturing her spleen.

Joseph Charles Fox, 35, previously was found guilty in Dickinson County Circuit Court of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation as a habitual offender-fourth, so Judge Mary Barglind set the maximum penalty at 20 years.

“The jury most definitely got it right,” the judge said, noting they only deliberated for about 20 minutes during Fox’s April trial because the facts were clear.

The woman testified at trial Fox was controlling in their dating relationship and became upset July 24 when she came home from work later than expected.

During the ensuing argument, the woman’s ex-husband called her, further enraging Fox and prompting him to punch her twice in the ribs, she testified.

When she went to Dickinson County Memorial Hospital the next day, she told doctors she fell down the stairs while carrying laundry because she didn’t want Fox to get in trouble. They diagnosed her with a cracked rib, which they testified could have been caused either by a punch or a fall down the stairs.

The woman also told family members she fell because they already didn’t like Fox and she didn’t want to make the situation worse.

Her pain worsened over the next few days, and she went to the emergency department July 29.

Doctors then diagnosed her with a third-degree laceration to her spleen that was bleeding internally. They testified the spleen injury likely didn’t happen at the same time as the cracked rib, and may have been caused by some subsequent trauma.

Her mother confronted her before the woman was airlifted to a Green Bay, Wis., hospital for emergency surgery.

The mother testified her daughter’s injuries didn’t seem consistent with falling down stairs, so she urged her to tell the truth about what happened in case she died during transport or surgery.

The woman started crying and admitted Fox hit her, the mother testified. To document the conversation, the mother wrote a note saying Fox caused her daughter’s injuries and then had her daughter sign and date it.

A Kingsford Public Safety officer interviewed Fox later that day and claimed he was inconsistent in his story on how the woman fell down the stairs and how he first heard about her injuries.

Fox didn’t testify in his own defense at trial, and chose to remain silent during sentencing.

The woman, however, did address the court at sentencing, saying she didn’t believe Fox was trying to kill her, but he almost did. She said she now suffers from nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder, trust issues and a compromised immune system due to her spleen injury.

Fox will get credit for 311 days already served in the Dickinson County Jail.