Attorney: 'Broken heart' to blame in attack on ex-girlfriend

Jonathan Elbers accused of attacking Charlotte Ventimiglia in April 2013

The attorney for a man who was convicted of attacking his ex-girlfriend and trying to stuff her into a Christmas tree bag says a broken heart is to blame for his client's actions. Jonathan Elbers was sentenced to seven to 25 years in prison Thursday for assault, home invasion, unlawful imprisonment and assaulting an officer.

"When young men become smitten with young women, they are sometimes prone to irrational and bizarre behavior. I think this case sums this up," said attorney Mark Haddad. "All the acts that he did that night and in the following days can be explained, not because he's a criminal, not because he's a bad person, but because he had a broken heart."

Elbers former girlfriend, Charlotte Ventimiglia, testified during his trial that the two broke up after dating for more than a year. Ventimiglia said Elbers came over to her home while her parents where away on vacation and became upset when her current boyfriend called her. Ventimiglia said Elbers told her he would kill her multiple times and that he choked her until she passed out.

Ventimiglia was found in the bag by officers who went to the home to check on her. Elbers was still in the home, but escaped after a struggle with officers.

He was found three days later hiding in a deer blind.

Elbers spoke before his sentencing, saying he hoped Ventimiglia would find it in her heart to forgive him.

"I can't express the guilt I carry with me every day," Elbers told the court. "I have made a huge mistake and I will live with it for the rest of my life."

A restitution hearing is scheduled for March in the case.

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