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A St. Mary’s man left court on Monday with a sentence of life in prison for attempting to murder his former girlfriend, who testified that she will continue to suffer from the wound inflicted when he slit her throat with a knife.

Patrick J. Hutching, a 32-year-old former Lusby resident, pleaded guilty earlier this year to attempted first-degree murder from the knife attack last December in Valley Lee on Bridgette Fae Hayden.

“This is a miracle through the grace of God that I am here today,” Hayden said as she sobbed from the witness stand. “This evil man tried to kill me, and left me to die.”

St. Mary’s Assistant State’s Attorney Buffy Giddens said during the hearing that Hutching’s conduct in part amounted to an “exploitation of trust” between him and Hayden.

“He was the boyfriend. He was the person she was supposed to be able to trust,” the prosecutor said. “He sharpened the knife before he went there.”

Hutching and Hayden talked by telephone on Dec. 5 before two of his friends drove him to Valley Lee, according to court papers, and Hutching later called one of the friends to say that “he had just killed the victim, and needed assistance discarding the body.”

“They thought he was joking,” Giddens said at Monday’s hearing, until the friend receiving Hutching’s call returned to the woman’s home, court papers state, and found her on the ground, bleeding from a wound to a carotid artery.

St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputies arriving at the scene began life-saving efforts to help the injured woman as rescue squad volunteers responded. She initially was taken to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown before she was transferred to MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Hayden, now 47, wrote in a victim impact statement that she “died three times that night,” once on her way to the Washington hospital and twice on the operating table.

As she was testifying Monday about Hutching calling her, and agreeing to meet with him “against my better judgment,” she broke down and handed the pages of her statement to St. Mary’s Circuit Judge Michael J. Stamm.

Hayden wrote that she was walking toward Hutching on a street, outside a friend’s home she was visiting, when he approached with “an innocent look on his face,” and gave her a hug before spinning her around, forcing the knife into her neck and pulling the blade twice across her neck.

“I fell to the ground, [and] Patrick lifted my head, saying he was sorry,” Hayden wrote. “As I lay there dying, he ran off into the blurry darkness. I am left with this horrific visual which I face daily, and in my dreams. All this because I no longer wanted to be in a relationship.”

Hayden wrote that she suffered paralysis in her tongue, muscles around her neck, and in an arm and shoulder.

The prosecutor said that Hutching has shown no remorse “and continuously blamed the victim for his actions.”

Hutching turned toward Hayden during the court hearing and asked for her forgiveness, but the judge said that request — and his guilty plea — were contradicted by “totally ridiculous” explanations for his conduct that he presented during a presentence investigation.

“These [physical] scars over time will become less obvious,” Stamm said after looking at pictures of the injured woman in a hospital bed, but “the mental scars this young lady will have the rest of her life will never disappear.” The judge said to Hutching about his offense, “You thought about it. You planned it. You did it. You tried to escape. I think you’re a monster.”