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Hall found guilty in Wal-Mart attack

Sentencing possibly today

In less than an hour, a jury found Stephen Mark Hall guilty Thursday on all counts related to an attack Oct. 14, 2005 on a woman and her two-year-old grandchild in a retail store bathroom.
    Sentencing for Hall could be today at 10 a.m., providing a doctor could be located to answer questions regarding Hall's psychological evaluation.
    Otherwise, sentencing for Hall will be set for a later date, said Bulloch County Superior Court Judge Gates Peed.
    Jurors began deliberating at 5:45 p.m. Thursday after hearing testimony from a series of witnesses and victims in the attack, which included not only the woman and her granddaughter, but customers and employees of the store.
    The jury reached a verdict by 6:35 p.m.
    They found Hall guilty on 17 charges regarding the incident that took place three and a half years ago in Statesboro's Wal-Mart Supercenter. Jurors watched videos of Hall making repeated visits to the water fountain between the men's and women's restrooms at the rear of the store, then duck into the women's restroom.
    Joy Adams took the stand and told about a trip to buy groceries that ended in horror when she took her two-year-old granddaughter to the bathroom.
    She exited the bathroom stall and was washing her hands and  those of her granddaughter when Hall appeared behind her, having hidden in a stall.
    "We were talking and laughing. We didn't know somebody was right beside us, listening," she said, tearful as she recalled the incident.
    "This man came out of nowhere ... from behind me ... and (the grandchild) was gong berserk. He was stinging me with something ..."
    The "something" was a stun gun with 500,000 volts, jurors learned later.
    Adams told how she fought Hall and refused to get into a stall as he ordered. He pulled a knife and threatened both her and the child, telling them both to "shut up" and continued to try to force her into the stall. Adams was screaming for help and fighting, she said.
    The videos jurors saw showed customers and store employees reacting to the screams they heard. When they tried t o open the door, however, they could not.
    "His strength was unbelievable," Adams said, describing how Hall was holding the door as he also struggled with her on the floor. But her rescuers kept trying, and the door opened enough for "hands to come in," she said.
    A customer grabbed the child and pulled her to safety, but she still struggled with Hall. Eventually the people at the door were able to push it open wide enough for one man to grab Adams by the ankles and pull her to safety - an act also captured on video.
    The video also shows Hall exit the bathroom and stand there, surrounded by folks trying to keep him at bay until police arrived.
    Store manager Bryan Halbur, asset protection coordinator Brenda Greer, and associates Michael Ransom, Anthony Ferrari, Joe Giddons and Dennis Griffin each described the same scenario as they  took the stand - echoing what the video showed as they all, along with customers Eric D'Olive and Blaine Olmstead, surrounded Hall with shopping carts and benches, trying to barricade him.
    Hall told them all to get back and let him go, and threatened them with the stun gun, which he kept deploying and which made a frightening sound, according to testimony. He also threatened them with a can of pepper spray, which he used on them as he escaped.
    Each witness described how Hall ran through the store, spraying people as he went, including a five-year-old girl. The girls' baby sitter, Holly Brown, testified that Hall intended to spray the child and the child suffered pain, vomiting and breathing trouble.
    D'Olive told how he chased Hall into the parking lot, but was behind United States Marine reservist Cpl. Kevin Doncaster, who saw Hall running and gave chase, ending up holding him at gunpoint in the parking lot until police arrived.
    Doncaster did not testify as he is in Iraq, said Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Daphne Jarriel, who prosecuted the case.
    Statesboro Police Det. Rob Bryan testified finding three sets of handcuffs, a collapsible baton, a stun gun and pepper spray on Hall's person. The knife he used had been left in the bathroom, where Greer secured it and handed over to police.
    In Hall's car, they found boxes and packaging for the array of weapons indicating they had been recently purchased, he said. They also discovered a gold-tone security officer's badge in his glove compartment, he said.
    Jurors found Hall guilty on the following charges: kidnapping with bodily harm (Adams), kidnapping (the grandchild), four counts of aggravated assault (deploying the stun gun twice against Adams and using the knife twice), terroristic threats, possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm (stun gun) during the commission of felonies;
    Also, cruelty to children (using pepper spray against the five-year-old), third degree cruelty to children (attacking Adams in the presence of her grandchild), and six counts of battery against the five-year-old, D'Olive, Ferrari, Olmstead, Ransom and Halbur for using the pepper spray.
    Adams said the incident emotionally scarred her and her granddaughter.
    "There is the constant f ear of somebody being behind you," she said, sobbing. "It got so bad I didn't want to leave my house. I'd be at church and have to leave."
    She had to be medicated for panic attacks and her granddaughter became frightened of her. "I had to rebuild a relationship with her," she said. "That was not fair. She was so frightened she did not want anything to do with me, and she called him the 'mean man' and was afraid he would come back."

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