YOUGSTOWN Man receives probation for assaulting ex-girlfriend

The 68-year-old man said he was simply protecting himself from a beating.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Lawrence Coward Sr. said he was shocked when his former girlfriend became enraged and started whacking him with a baseball bat four months ago.
"This wasn't somebody I'd just met that day. I knew this woman 20 years," Coward said.
To protect himself, he pulled out a 3-inch pocket knife and stabbed Kimberly Mack in the back.
For his part in the donnybrook, Coward, 68, of West Dewey Avenue, was placed on two years' probation Friday by Judge Robert Lisotto of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Coward pleaded guilty in February to aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault means the defendant was provoked by the victim.
What happened: Coward told the judge Friday that he'd taken Mack, 37, of West Philadelphia Avenue, to get groceries that day. Mack wanted him to do more, but he didn't have time, he said.
"She just flew off the handle," he told Judge Lisotto. "I had to protect myself."
He said Mack hit him in the face and forehead several times, opening a gash that required four stitches to close. Defense attorney Robert Rohrbaugh II said the assault was "severe and ongoing."
The two were being held back by friends but were still trying to get at each other when police arrived.
Mack was considered the initial aggressor and was charged with assault. Her case is still pending in Youngstown Municipal Court.
Police said Coward had a chance to walk away from the fight, which started inside Mack's house and spilled onto the front porch.
Instead, he withdrew momentarily, pulled out the knife and stabbed Mack, which is why he was also charged.
"There were some unusual facts to this case," said Assistant Prosecutor Deena Calabrese.

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