Chambers Co. woman tries to take own life after bond lowered to $4.5M in case of husband's death

Mycah Hatfield Image
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Chambers Co. woman confronts questions about her past during hearing
Sarah Hartsfield had to answer questions about her past, including previous allegations involving a former partner's death.

ANAHUAC, Texas (KTRK) -- The Chambers County woman behind bars and accused of causing her husband's death was treated for a superficial cut moments after a judge lowered her bond on Wednesday.

An Eyewitness News source confirmed Sarah Hartsfield appeared to have attempted to take her own life with a pencil sharpener blade shortly after a hearing. She didn't require hospitalization, the source added.

As a result, Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told ABC13 that she's been placed on suicide watch until further notice and evaluation.

The development came as Hartsfield pleaded for a bond more affordable than the $5 million originally set. A court lowered it by $500,000 to $4.5 million.

She told Judge Chap B. Cain III that she could possibly come up with $1,000 and that still might put her monthly expenses at risk. The 48-year-old was emotional when asked if she could make bond.

"That is not a bond that she can make at this time," her attorney, Keaton Kirkwood, said following the hearing.

She is accused of killing her husband of 11 months, Joseph Hartsfield, who she said she met online.

SEE ALSO: Chambers County man told family he feared his wife would kill him before his murder, affidavit shows

An affidavit filed with the court said Joseph Hartsfield, who had diabetes, experienced a dangerous plunge in his blood sugar on Jan. 6 before becoming unconscious. At the time, records show she told investigators that she waited an hour to call 911 for help. Joseph Hartsfield never regained consciousness in a Baytown hospital and died more than a week later.

A nurse on the case alerted police that something seemed off after Sarah Hartsfield arrived at Houston Methodist in Baytown.

Sarah Hartsfield was the only one to testify at Wednesday's hearing.

District Attorney Sheryl Lieck Henry, the defense attorney, and the judge were all present in the courtroom, but she opted to appear by Zoom from the jail two blocks from the courtroom.

Kirkwood said Sarah Hartsfield is being held in jail unconstitutionally because her husband's cause and manner of death have not been determined.

"How can you indict somebody when you don't know?" Kirkwood said. "I have no idea, but this is the epitome of indicting a ham sandwich."

Sarah Hartsfield denied telling investigators that she waited an hour to call for help during her testimony Wednesday. She called diabetes an "individual responsibility," saying she heard her husband already up taking care of himself after an alarm went off to indicate his levels were off.

She said hospital staff told her that her husband died from an ischemic stroke and a clogged artery.

According to the district attorney, doctors said Joseph died from a lack of oxygen for an extended time, low blood sugar for an extended time, and a stroke.

"The State of Texas here in Chambers County is doing a witchcraft job of trying to do their investigations after indictment," Kirkwood explained after the hearing.

Lieck Henry heavily questioned Sarah Hartsfield about her past, with the objective of showing the judge that she was a flight risk and posed a safety threat to the victim's family.

Lieck Henry told Judge Cain that the accused wife has "bounced from city to city, husband to husband, and state to state."

In court, it was revealed that the defendant listed five last names she has had throughout her life and spoke to the district attorney about at least 10 different cities she has lived in throughout her life.

Sarah Hartsfield said she was in the military for a little over 20 years, retiring in April 2017. She testified that she's currently on 100% disability and suffers from physical injuries, post-traumatic stress, and severe depression that she takes medication for on and off. She also testified that she has had cancer "at least" three times in different parts of her body.

In 2018, Sarah Hartsfield was investigated for killing her fiancé at the time, David Bragg, in Minnesota. At the time, the grand jury deemed that she acted in self-defense. That case has been re-opened in Douglas County since she was charged with murder in Chambers County.

When asked about the killing on Wednesday, she said her previous husband had flown in from Korea and wanted to visit the children they had together. She said that was upsetting to Bragg and they got into a physical fight.

Sarah Hartsfield testified that she left her children in the car in the driveway of the Minnesota home that she shared with Bragg and went inside to get clothes for them. She said she had two guns on her that she took inside so her children were not left alone with them.

From there, she said that Bragg pointed a gun at her and she dove to the ground to avoid being shot herself before "blindly" firing one of the guns she had on her. She claimed she did not know where she hit him and she did not know that she could pull the trigger.

Lieck Henry pointed out that Sarah Hartsfield fired guns in the military.

She was also questioned about a protective order a former husband and her two children - now 17 and 18 years old - filed against her. Another one of Sarah Hartsfield's husbands told authorities at one point that she ordered him to kill the other husband's new wife. Lieck Henry asked her about an FBI investigation following that accusation, and she denied it.

She said the accusations were later recanted by her husband who made them to retaliate against her because she would not take him back.

SEE ALSO: 1st ex-husband sorry that Chambers Co. man 'had to die' to arrest woman who was married 5 times

"The things they are bringing up have already been investigated," Kirkwood said. "There are no open cases that come back towards my client at this time. You heard her testify. She has not been visited by any police entities, the FBI, or any other counties she's had dealings with."

The district attorney declined to speak with the media following the hearing.

No future court dates have been set.

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