Just days after resolving the starvation-murder case of four year-old Austin James Watkins, another serious child abuse case made the news today.
The Hattiesburg Police Department announced today that officers arrested five people for abusing a young child. The child had apparently been abused over an extended period of time. The Clarion-Ledger reports:
Neighbors who lived near the home where five adults were arrested for abusing a 4-year-old boy described a horrific scene on Friday – detailing the insides of the Hattiesburg home where the abuse took place.
They told of a vacant home with blood stains, a dog cage that may have been used to confine the child and rooms cluttered with trash and debris surrounded by graffiti-covered walls.
“There’s stacks and stacks of clothes and little mats on the floor. It has the smell of feces,” said the landlord, who didn’t want his name publicized, of the home at 215 N. 25th Ave.
Among the suspects charged with one felony count of child abuse are: Sue Miller, 53; Nancy Miller, 34; Patricia Aguilar, 30; Francys Albertson, 20; and Christopher Lee, 37, all of Hattiesburg.
The landlord, who lives near the house, said all five suspects lived in the home, but only Sue Miller and her daughter, Nancy Miller, and Albertson were listed on the lease of the home, he said.
The suspects were arrested Tuesday after police received an anonymous tip from someone concerned about the welfare of the child inside the residence. Police said the child was in Sue Miller’s care.
The 4-year-old boy was one of 10 children taken from the home by Forrest County Department of Human Services officials, police spokesman Synarus Green said. Green said investigators have not determined the relationship between the other nine children and the adults arrested.
The 4-year-old remains in critical condition at a Jackson hospital, police said.
The other nine children are in the custody of the Department of Human Services.
“The child’s body was covered with new and old bruises, marks, cuts and abrasions,” Green said in a prepared statement. “A lot of them were old injuries. He didn’t receive them in one day,” he said.
Investigators don’t know how long the abuse had been going on, Green said.
A preliminary medical exam showed that the child had cuts on his head and body, broken teeth with damaged gums and internal abdominal injuries caused by blunt-force trauma.
Felony child abuse is a serious crime and carries a severe punishment. Pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated 97-5-39(2)(a),
Any person who shall intentionally (i) burn any child, (ii) torture any child or, (iii) except in self-defense or in order to prevent bodily harm to a third party, whip, strike or otherwise abuse or mutilate any child in such a manner as to cause serious bodily harm, shall be guilty of felonious abuse of a child and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for life or such lesser term of imprisonment as the court may determine, but not less than ten (10) years. For any second or subsequent conviction under this subsection, the person shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life.
A minimum sentence of 10 years, and a maximum of life imprisonment. Serious crime, severe penalties. If you have been accused of a crime against a child, please contact Jackson, MS criminal defense attorney Curt Crowley immediately.