A 27-year-old felon who has been in and out of state custody since age 14 is now facing eight years in Montana State Prison for violating terms of his release and six months in the county jail for fracturing his girlfriend’s face in three places.

Pacer Anthony Ferguson appeared in Yellowstone County District Court twice on Monday.

He appeared first before District Judge G. Todd Baugh for sentencing on a recent misdemeanor assault conviction for punching his girlfriend.

Baugh gave Ferguson the maximum allowed sentence of six months in the county jail, with credit for seven days served. He also ordered Ferguson to write “boys do not hit girls” 5,000 times. He told Ferguson to number the list, sign it and mail it to him by May 23.

Ferguson also has to pay more than $3,800 in restitution for his victim’s medical bills.

He admitted in court that he punched his girlfriend in the face during an argument on Aug. 24, 2012, fracturing her skull in three places. A surgeon implanted a permanent mesh titanium plate in the victim’s face to repair the damage.

The woman testified during a four-day trial that ended Dec. 12 that she still suffers double vision when she looks up or down and that she has occasional pain and numbness in her face.

A 12-person jury convicted Ferguson of the misdemeanor assault charge but acquitted him of the more severe charges of felony aggravated assault and felony witness tampering that were sought by prosecutors.

If he had been convicted of either offense, he would have faced between five and 100 years in prison.

Ferguson also appeared Monday before District Judge Gregory R. Todd for a disposition hearing on a sentence for a felony attempted robbery in 2003.

In that case, Ferguson attempted to rob a man at knife point in a Wal-mart parking lot, according to court records.

Ferguson and his attorney, Penelope Strong, argued at the hearing that Ferguson has made significant progress in terms of taking responsibility for his actions and complying with his release orders.

“If I bought that argument, I would essentially reward you for what’s transpired,” Todd said, as he went through pages of Ferguson’s criminal history and punishments.

Ferguson stood silently as the judge read aloud through the list.

At age 13, Ferguson and another minor released a train car in Billings that rolled down the tracks and killed a man.

For that and subsequent crimes and violations of his release, Ferguson has been incarcerated in Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility and Montana State Prison multiple times.

“As you know, we’ve seen each other over the course of many years – from the start of my judgeship,” Todd said, adding that he is going into his 14th year as a judge.

He ruled that Ferguson violated the terms of his probation for the 2003 robbery multiple times, including with the misdemeanor assault. Todd revoked Ferguson’s prior sentence and ordered him to spend eight years in the Montana State Prison.

The sentence will run concurrent to Ferguson’s sentence for the misdemeanor assault.

Chief Deputy Yellowstone County attorney Juli M. Pierce said after the hearing that she respects the two sentences the judges gave Ferguson.

“We’ll continue to prosecute domestic violence cases no matter what the outcome is,” she said, shortly after Ferguson was taken into custody. “We’ll continue to fight that fight because that’s why we’re here – for the protection of the community.”

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City news reporter for the Billings Gazette