A Cherokee County man on Thursday pleaded guilty but mentally ill in a domestic violence case in which the victim’s 5-year-old daughter is credited with saving her mother’s life.

On Feb. 9, Tyler Wayne Holloway, 32, of Acworth stabbed his sister, Carissa Mills, repeatedly and was arrested by Cherokee Sheriff’s Office deputies. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of cruelty to children, and one count of family violence battery, according to court records.

The negotiated plea carries a 30-year sentence, with the first 15 to be served in prison. Holloway will be required to submit to a psychological evaluation and follow up with all recommended treatment while serving the remaining 15 years of the sentence on probation. Conditions of his probation are that he have no contact with the victim and her daughter and no use of drugs or alcohol.

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds on Thursday presented 5-year-old Ariana Mills his department’s “Medal of Bravery” for jumping on her uncle’s back while he was stabbing her mother. After she jumped on his back, Holloway stopped the attack and fled.

“Ariana’s actions likely saved the life of her mother,” Reynolds said in a social media post Thursday afternoon.

Holloway in the plea admitted to stabbing his sister in the neck, head and back. The cruelty to children charges stemmed from the fact he committed the attack in front of Ariana.

“This little girl was incredibly brave during the horrific attack on her mother. She not only attempted to stop him from attacking her mother, she also participated in the 911 call and helped her mother after the attack,” Assistant District Attorney Rachel Ashe said. “We are proud of her actions and hope that Mr. Holloway’s sentencing brings a measure of peace to the entire family who has suffered so much due to his violent actions.”

“Nothing can erase this innocent child’s painful memories of witnessing the brutal attack on her mother, and nothing can take away the physical and mental anguish Carissa Mills endured,” said Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace. “But hopefully this sentence will bring closure for Ms. Mills and her daughter, who have both suffered so much, while also protecting the citizens of Cherokee County from any future violent acts at the hands of this dangerous man.”

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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