Elise Bryant, a woman accused of tying up the legs of a one-year-old child with plastic Wal-Mart bags and punching him in the “face and head in a manner as to cause bodily harm,” was sentenced to house arrest for two years on Monday, the Bradenton Herald is reporting.
Elise Bryant was convicted of felony child abuse in a Mississippi court, but managed to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors. In the terms of the agreement, the state recommended a sentence of 10 years for the 26-year-old, with an eight-year suspension and two years served under house arrest. She will also be closely watched for three years and has been instructed to pay a fine of $1,000 to a children’s fund and $1,500 to the court.
On the night of August 21, 2014, police officers had responded to a domestic disturbance call at an apartment complex in Gulfport, Mississippi, where the little boy lived with the biological father and stepmother, Elise Bryant.
Neighbors were the ones who called the police around 10:30 a.m. to report the assault on the child. When police officers arrived on the scene, they found Bryant, who was 24-years-old at the time, kneeling over the one-year-old child and punching him repeatedly in the face. Police said the boy’s legs were bound together and that he had a swollen head and bruised arms.
His stepmother was arrested and he was taken to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries.
Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker, who described the incident as a “very troubling case,” revealed that the plea deal was worked out in agreement between the defense and the prosecution, but ultimately approved by the presiding judge, Roger Clark.
— Jeffrey S. Crockett (@Crockett_Law) October 13, 2015
Prosecutors had allowed Elsie Bryant to file a so-called “Alford plea,” which allows defendants to plead guilty and at the same time still maintain that they are innocent. This means that Bryant did not confess to her crimes, but rather admitted that the state prosecution had enough evidence to convict her.
Elsie Bryant’s defense attorney had pushed forward a theory that the child got his injuries from an accident and not at the hands of his stepmother.
Parker said even though the prosecution’s case was not strengthened because of a lack of witnesses and medical evidence to show how the child got his injuries, all fingers still pointed to Elise Bryant as the one responsible.
“The defense had retained an expert to put forth testimony that the boy’s injuries were consistent with an accident. However, the state expected to put forth evidence that the child had Wal-Mart bags tied around his ankles and a mark on the head and lip when officers arrived.”
The Assistant District Attorney went on further to make his point.
“The tying of the legs was obviously very disturbing, but what makes the case a felony is the mark to the head and actual injuries. Fortunately, the child was released that day with a diagnosis on the head and a superficial lip laceration.”
This is not the first time that a parent would be using the Alford plea to strike a deal with prosecutors. Stephanie Ramirez was sentenced to 20 years in prison despite triggering the plea for first-degree child abuse which caused the death of her 21-month-old daughter.
Her husband had beaten the girl badly, fracturing her ribs and cracking her skull. Prosecutors say Williams returned from work and refused to seek medical assistance for her daughter because her husband said it would get Child Protective Services involved. The child died of internal injuries. Doctor said the young girl’s life could have been saved if emergency surgery had been carried out quickly to repair her damaged organs.
Paul Thomas, father of a five-year-old boy also triggered the Alford plea and was sentenced to 15 months in prison for felony child abuse and neglect. He was looking at a maximum sentence of 10 years for leaving his children alone at home as he went out with his girlfriend. The boy was declared missing and found in a septic tank four days later.
Alexis Raiford, in her own case, was held accountable for the death of her three-year-old son, Zyon Thompson. Prosecutors say that the woman did not kill her son, but did nothing to stop her husband and another man from beating him up frequently.
Prosecutors say the boy was denied medical treatment and fell seriously ill before he later died. A child abuse expert revealed that if he had been taken to a hospital, he would have survived. Doctors say he was covered from “head to toe” in bruises and despite claims by his mother that he got injured playing, said his injuries were “not consistent with the day-to-day activities of a 3-year-old.”
[Featured Image by Dennis Stern/Shutterstock]