15- to 30-year term in Canton Twp. sledgehammer assault

Updated:

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A western Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison in an assault on his girlfriend with a sledgehammer, which he contended was an accident.

The (Washington) Observer-Reporter says a Washington County judge imposed the sentence Wednesday on 48-year-old Paul Helmick of Canton Township.

He was convicted in July of attempted homicide in the Jan. 29 assault on 51-year-old Lori Ann Phillips.

Helmick said he used the sledgehammer to beat on the apartment door and then he hit Phillips accidentally with it while shoving her aside.

Authorities said a neighbor heard the commotion and asked Helmick what was going on, and he replied "I killed (her) dead."

Prosecutors say Phillips spent 11 days in the hospital with a fractured skull and a broken rib.