District Judge Steve Ellis seemed uncertain if he'd heard correctly when a defendant answered Ellis' routine questions Tuesday in 35th District Court.

Ellis asked Gerald Holloway, 54, who'd just entered a no contest plea to an assault charge, to repeat himself.

"I took my father's life," Holloway said, prompting Ellis to seek an explanation.

Holloway, who ended up being sentenced to 180 days in the Brown County Jail in a plea bargain on the assault charge, said he was 16 and living in Monahans, when he intervened as his father assaulted his mother.

Holloway did not say exactly what happened, but, he told Ellis, he was not prosecuted because authorities found it to be a justifiable homicide.

Holloway was arrested in May on an assault by strangulation charge following a dispute with his girlfriend over a Klondike bar, Brownwood police said earlier.

A woman told police then that Holloway got mad at her for eating all of the Klondike bars and hit her with a coffee mug. Then the man grabbed a stick, placed it against her neck and pinned her to a wall, she told police.

Holloway has been in the Brown County Jail since the May arrest, and he was set to stand trial this week on a felonious assault charge. A jury was selected Monday.

Tuesday morning, in a hearing outside the jury's presence, prosecutor Bruce Hoffer and defense attorney Ronnie Lappe told Ellis a plea deal had been reached. Based on the plea bargain, Holloway was allowed to plead to a "lesser included offense" of misdemeanor assault, with a recommended sentence of 180 days in jail and credit for time already served.

Ellis began questioning Holloway about his background and asked him if he had ever had any mental problems. Holloway said he had, and told Ellis about killing his father.

"I've been having to deal with it on my own," Holloway told Ellis.

Ellis asked Holloway if he has seen a counselor and if he is a client of MHMR. Holloway said he thinks he is and has a caseworker.

Holloway's girlfriend was called into the courtroom, and she told Ellis she agrees with the plea bargain and still has a relationship with Holloway.

Ellis approved the plea bargain, then called in the jury and told the panel what had transpired. In explaining the plea bargain, Ellis told jurors the state had waived an enhancement paragraph that was based on Holloway's previous burglary conviction and prison sentence.

Ellis urged Holloway to continue seeking counseling.