Mother Faces Jail For Beating Son, 15

Religious 'Spare The Rod' Conviction Cited

December 15, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — A New Windsor woman faces up to 15 years in prison after her conviction on child abuse and battery charges last week in the beating of her teen-age son with an electrical cord.

The 41-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of her son, was found guilty by a Carroll jury that deliberated almost three hours.

The woman told the jury Wednesday she beat her 15-year-old son Aug. 2 first with a leather belt and then with an electrical extension cord because he disobeyed her.

She said the youth was grounded because he was expelled from summer school. She beat him after he went out of the house without her permission, she testified.

The woman said she believed in "spare the rod, spoil the child," and that her only intention in beating her son was to discipline him.

She said the boy was "defiant" because he told his mother he was not going to let her beat him and because he tried to take the belt away.

State police troopers testified that they entered the case Aug. 2 when the woman reported that her son ran away.

Tfc. Robert Miller testified that he picked up the youth near his Western Chapel Road home and immediately noticed that the boy was covered with welts and bruises.

"There wasn't a place you could lay a finger that wasn't touching a mark or a bruise," Miller said, who described the injuries as long, swollen lines.

Cpl. David Warner, who went to the boy's home to investigate his injuries, testified that the boy's mother told him that she "wanted to get a knife and kill him" during the beating.

Warneralso said the boy's stepfather told him that he held the boy down sohis mother could beat him.

On the witness stand, the woman and her husband denied making the statements to Warner.

Defense attorneyChristina Gutierrez of Baltimore portrayed the woman as an intenselyreligious person who just wanted the best for her children.

In her closing argument to the jury, Gutierrez criticized Warner of a "remarkable lack of investigation" in the case. She suggested that the trooper stopped investigating when the woman told him she disciplined her son in accordance with the Bible.

Gutierrez urged the jury to consider the facts of the case by themselves, without worrying about "sending a message" to the community about child abuse.

"This is not the case of the century," she said. "But it might as well be for (the woman)."

But Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill maintained throughout the case that while the woman may love her son, she beat him in anger and went too far in disciplining him.

"What (she) did is not reasonable or appropriate," Hill told the jury. "She hurt him and she continued to hurt him. It's up to you to decide if she crossedthe line."

Testimony showed the youth, who is doing well in school and is attending classes regularly, has been living with his best friend's family since the Aug. 2 incident.

The jury began its deliberations at 5:10 p.m. Wednesday and went home for the night at 7 p.m.They continued their deliberations for about 45 minutes and reached their verdict Thursday morning.

Circuit Judge Raymond Beck ordereda presentence investigation in the case. Sentencing is scheduled forFeb. 14.

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