Child abuse bill gaining support
Click on photo to enlarge
FOR THE JOURNAL
— Rep. Bill Sandifer received a resounding statement from more than a thousand community members Thursday requesting
his support of Bill H3786, which requires tougher sentencing on those convicted of homicide by child abuse.
which was first introduced to the House Judiciary Committee in March of 2009 by Rep. Joey Millwood, has gained an ardent supporter.
Pam Grogan, great aunt of Brianna Bright, who died on Aug. 18 two days after being hospitalized due to alleged abuse by her
father, Matthew Hinton, has drafted a petition in support of the bill.
Bill H3786 would amend Section 16-3-85 in the
South Carolina Code of Law to increase the penalty of homicide by child abuse to life without parole and even the death penalty
if decided upon by prosecutors. The current law requires a minimum of 20 years imprisonment up to a life term, with no possibility
of the death penalty.
Grogan said she discovered the bill soon after baby Brianna died.
“I was researching
the crime of homicide by child abuse, what the sentence was, what happened in similar cases in South Carolina, and it just
led me to this,” she said.
Grogan said she was well aware that even if the law is changed, it likely would not
change the sentencing of Hinton if convicted of the crime.
“That doesn’t matter to us,” she said.
“The last day we saw Brianna in the hospital, we vowed to her that we were going to bring some good out of this. You
kill an adult who’s not helpless and you get a stiffer sentence in this state than if you kill a helpless baby.”
Aug. 16, Seneca police officers were called to Oconee Medical Center in response to a possible case of child abuse after EMS
took 5-month-old Brianna from Northwoods Apartments, Apartment 129-F off of South Radio Station Road. Brianna was soon transferred
to Greenville Memorial Hospital. By Aug. 18, the child was dead. A later autopsy showed she’d died from closed head
trauma and also sustained multiple broken bones.
Grogan and her husband, Pat, held Brianna in some of the last moments
of her life.
“I was in disbelief that anyone could possibly do that to a child,” she said. “I can’t
remember another time when I felt like my heart was being torn apart like that.”
Today, Grogan is at the head
of a push to get the new bill passed. She is not alone.
“I actually received a letter with a petition that had
1,1,00 signatures on it today,” Sandifer confirmed Thursday. “I’m in favor of the bill. I was in favor of
it before I received the letter.”
That letter, he said, only strengthened his personal stance on the matter.
of the things that alarmed me when I got this letter is they quoted a statistic that there were 22 children killed by abuse
in South Carolina in 2006,” Sandifer said. “That is a staggering number. That’s frightening. I think we
have to look at the death penalty or life in prison without parole as a deterrent. If that deterrent saves one innocent child’s
life, then it’s worth it.”
The bill will be looked at by the House Judiciary Committee and assigned to a
subcommittee. The subcommittee will then vote whether to pass, amend or vote down the bill. Regardless, the bill would then
go before full committee, where it would then voted down, amended and passed or passed as-is to the House for a vote. Sandifer
said he was not yet aware of a timeline for a subcommittee’s consideration of the bill.
dealing with a child, that is a defenseless individual. And the fact that an adult would kill a child by abusing it I think
is the highest form of murder,” Sandifer said.
Meanwhile, the toll of Brianna’s death remains with Grogan
and the rest of the child’s family. Grogan recalls watching her 14-month-old grandchild playing over the holidays and
feeling a sensation of grief over the child who wasn’t there.
“I couldn’t help but think ‘they
would be playing together right now,’” Grogan said.
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A woman accused of abusing her child is headed toward a trial after a judge upheld her arrest during
a Friday preliminary hearing.
Ebonee Bowers, 23, is charged with child abuse by inflicting great bodily injury.
appeared in General Sessions Court, tearing up and turning to look at her family and friends as Detective Todd Owens of the
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office described the 17-month-old child’s injuries.
Owens said Bowers
confessed to being frustrated, stepping on the child’s face and shaking her. The first time detectives interviewed
her, Bowers said the child fell twice, once while her boyfriend, Dametrius Freeman, was watching her and once while Bowers
was present, according to Owens.
Bowers’ attorney, Bruce Byrholdt, questioned Owens about Freeman’s credibility.
22, was arrested the same day as Bowers, Aug. 5, and he is charged with the lesser offense of child neglect.
SC police: Mom
killed children before sinking car
ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina mother who claimed her children drowned
when her car careened into a river was charged with murder Tuesday after authorities said she confessing to suffocating the
two toddlers and then faking the accident.
Sheriff Larry Williams said 29-year-old Shaquan Duley told investigators
she was distraught about her money troubles and unemployment and that she killed her killed her children by putting her hand
over their mouths after a dispute with her own mother. He says Duley then strapped the children into her car and drove it
into a river Monday morning.
Anderson County, SC
Anderson County Deputies arrested a couple, charging one of them with
abusing her infant child, and the other for failing to report the abuse.
a 17-month-old girl arrived at the hospital with a fractured skull and face, and burns on her body. Investigators determined
the injuries were not accidental.
Deputies arrested the child’s mother, Ebonee’
Angelica Bowers, 23, and boyfriend Dametrius Wadell Freeman, 22.
Freeman is not the child’s father.
Bowers is charged with inflicting great bodily injury on a child, and Freeman is charged with unlawful neglect of a child. Warrants show Bowers to be the only one accused of phyically hurting the child.
Deputies say the two
waited more than 24 hours to get the child medical help.
Warrants say Bowers stomped on the child's head repeatedly with her foot, while her shoes were on.
Bowers’ other two children
– the infant’s twin sister and a two-year-old boy, showed no signs of injury.
the children have been placed in protective custody.
The baby’s condition is listed
Bowers was denied bond Friday night, while Freeman was allowed bond.
Missing SC boy buried in concrete;
CORNER, S.C. — As the fruitless search was on for a missing 2-year-old boy with an infectious smile, authorities believe
that all along he was buried under 400 pounds of concrete in a trash can.
The boy's father
and his girlfriend were arrested Thursday, two days after the couple concocted a story about the boy falling into the Charleston
Harbor near a popular tourist destination, authorities said.
On Wednesday, human remains were
found that matched the description of the boy the couple had given. The body was wrapped in 32-gallon trash bags encased in
concrete in a bin so heavy a farmer had to hoist it onto a county vehicle using a backhoe.
are awaiting DNA to confirm that it is Rodricus Williams, but they left little doubt they believe it is by charging Roger
Williams and Grace Nichole Trotman with homicide by child abuse.
Police are still trying to
figure out how the boy was killed, but Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said he had been beaten in the past and they were
serving a hospital with search warrants to get more information on the treatment he received.
interviews, there was some talk about the child being struck on occasions," DeWitt said. "Our interpretation is,
it was not by accident."
The saga started late Tuesday, Rodricus was reported missing
to Charleston police. A woman said he possibly slipped through the railing at the Battery downtown, a tourist area and Civil
War site known for its antebellum homes on the city's peninsula. The boy's mother was supposed to pick up Rodricus
there, but police said he was never even in the area.
Officials and rescuers searched the
historic harbor into the night by boat and helicopter, calling on nearly a dozen agencies to scour the sea and land for any
sign of Rodricus. The boy's father, Roger Williams, and his girlfriend, Grace Nichole Trotman, seemed to cooperate at
By 5 a.m. Wednesday, the search was abruptly called off. Later that day, interviews
with Williams and Trotman led them to an abandoned mobile home in a rural area some 55 miles northwest of Charleston, where
the remains were uncovered.
Trotman has been cooperating with police while Williams has given
investigators false information, DeWitt said.
Trotman has been charged by Charleston police
with filing a false report and her bond was set at $250,000. Another judge denied bond for both on the more serious charges
Williams had stopped speaking with police and asked for a lawyer. He did not
qualify for a public defender and it was unclear if he had an attorney yet. Trotman did qualify for a public defender but
it was unclear if one had been assigned.
Police think Rodricus was killed in Trotman's
quiet neighborhood in Summerville, about 30 miles northwest of Charleston.
Man who killed son also sentenced in beatings
of two inmates
Seriously Injured 19-Month-Old
Child Has Bleeding On Brain, Retinol Tears
March 31, 2010
LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. -- A Laurens County man has been charged with child abuse after his 19-month-old son was rushed to
Greenville Memorial Hospital with serious injuries including bleeding on his brain.
According to a police incident
report, Roderick Woodruff, 32, said he heard a noise from the child's room early the morning on March 26. Woodruff said
he went in the child's room and found the toddler unresponsive laying on the floor next to a bunk bed the child shares
with an older sibling.
Deputies said Woodruff told them picked up the child and shook him to try to get the child
to respond. When the child did not respond, Woodruff ran next door to his girlfriend's parents' home.
told deputies that the child's grandmother, Margaret Ginn, began performing CPR on the child. A short time later the child
started breathing again.
The report said Woodruff then picked up his son, and the child stopped breathing again.
Ginn then performed CPR on the baby again.
The toddler was rushed to Greenville Memorial Hospital. The police report
said the child had bleeding on his brain and behind the eyes with severe retinal tears.
The Laurens County Sheriff's
office charged Woodruff with child abuse after they said the child's medical evaluation showed the injuries were too severe
to have been caused by a fall.
Woodruff was arrested Tuesday. He was released on a $40,000 bond.
the sheriff's office, the toddler and his older sibling were now in alternative care.
Thursday, February 25, 2010 3:29 PM
Summerville man gets life sentence for homicide by child abuse
Summerville man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted on a charge of homicide by child abuse/neglect.
It took a jury a little over two hours Thursday afternoon to return a guilty verdict against Justin Hillerby in connection
with the death of Blaise Preston Spoerl, the son of Hillerby’s live-in girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Spoerl.
requests from Hillerby’s attorney and his mother, Circuit Court Judge Kristi Harrington handed down the maximum sentence,
life without parole.
A gasp and a heartfelt shout of “yes!” from a family member of Blasé Spoerl
greeted the sentence, despite the judge’s warning not to show outbursts of emotion.
The incident occurred in
September 2008 when Summerville Police responded to a call at a home on Dovetail Circle in Summerville. There they found 22-month-old
Blaise Preston Spoerl lying dead in his crib. According to a report, the boy’s body was stiff, cold, and covered in
According to an arrest affidavit, Hillerby told investigators he had accidentally bumped into the child, striking
him with his knee hard enough to knock him to the floor. Hillerby said that after striking him, he told the child to get up
and “walk it off,” the affidavit says.
The child wobbled to a seat, looking like a “zombie,”
Hillerby told police.
However, at first Hillerby told officers the boy was falling asleep in his highchair so Hillerby
put him to bed, an incident report shows.
According to the affidavit, after being placed in his highchair, the boy’s
head “began to sway back and forth as if he had no muscle control.”
Hillerby told officers he took the
child from the highchair and carried him into his bedroom, accidentally hitting the boy’s head against the doorframe
and against the crib, according to the affidavit.
Later, about 1 a.m., the boy’s mother came home, intoxicated,
according to witness testimony. She did not check on the child but did get into an argument with roommates about late rent.
Then everyone went to bed.
The next morning, Jennifer Spoerl found her son in his crib, lying on his back with a pool
of blood near his body, the incident report says.
A pathologist at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston
performed an autopsy and determined the cause of the child’s death was blunt trauma to the head and the manner of death
as homicide, the affidavit says.
During the defense’s cross examination Thursday, Hillerby admitted to the jury
he had changed his story several times because he was led by police detectives to believe that if he modified his statements,
his story would match forensic evidence.
“They said it was an accident and people don’t get in trouble
for accidents,” he said.
He also admitted to having a number of run-ins with the law, but never for any violent
offenses. Finally, while he maintained throughout the entire 18-month ordeal that he does not know what happened that night,
he also said he was not intoxicated that evening and he never, ever hit Blaise.
His attorney, Michael Bosnak, characterized
the case as a series of false confessions, with no physical evidence of any type pointing to Hillerby as the one responsible
for the child’s death. Two roommates home that evening testified that they did not see anything unusual or out of the
ordinary either with Hillerby or the child. One asked why the child was crying and sitting in the corner and Hillerby told
them he had put the child in “time out” because he had spilled a drink.
“I wouldn’t have hurt
him – why would I,” Hillerby said, “If I had wanted to, I could have left.”
the mother of Hillerby’s own son, testified that she uses corporal punishment when her children misbehave, but that
Hillerby never would.
“Justin was a good father to my children – never laid a hand on any of them,”
However, she admitted that Hillerby had “popped” his son on his bottom at least once.
wouldn’t call it a hit,” she said.
Assistant Solicitor Anne Williams said that Hillerby’s story changed
as time went on. When he found out the child had died from blunt force trauma, he gave a little more information.
wanted to put his story in the best possible light,” she said.
Williams also noted that Hillerby’s own
words show he’s responsible. For example, in a telephone call between Jennifer Spoerl and Hillerby, Hillerby is heard
saying, “Maybe I smacked him. When he hit the floor is when I guess it all started. I didn’t notice. I was drunk.”
The prosecution pointed out that the horrific nature of the child’s injuries clearly showed that his death was
no accident. According to a pathologist, the boy died of blunt force trauma, with some 23 different injuries inflicted around
his head or face. The pathologist said those injuries could not have been inflicted by either open-handed blows or a fall
to a carpeted floor.
Trial Set To Begin For Man Accused In Child Abuse Case
Suffered Bruises, 27 Fractures
POSTED: 7:50 pm EST January 24, 2010
UPDATED: 8:17 pm EST January 24, 2010
WALHALLA, S.C. -- The trial for a man
whose son was brought to the hospital with 27 fractures is slated to begin Monday at the Oconee County Courthouse.
police called the case "one of the worst cases of child abuse they had ever seen."
Michael Daniels, 19, is
charged with three counts of inflicting bodily injury on a child and three counts of unlawful conduct toward a child.
Investigators said Daniels lived at the Walhalla Gardens Apartment Complex with his 2-month-old son and the child's
mother. In March 2008, the child's mother took the boy to Greenville Memorial Hospital.
That's when medical
staff found bruises and 27 fractures on the boy's body.
Infant dies of apparent child abuse
A 6 month old Charlotte infant who was hospitalized in critical condition on Friday from apparent
child abuse has died.
Charlotte-Mmecklenburg police say baby London Brantley, died just before
5:00PM Sunday at the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.
The boyfriend of the
baby's mother, 23 year old Juan Sabastian Vega, was arrested and charged with felony child abuse on Friday. No word on
if those charges will now be upgraded.
Vega is currently being held undeer a $7500 secured bond.
18-Year-Old South Carolina Father
Charged With Shaking Son to Death
Friday, January 22, 2010
LEXINGTON, S.C. — An 18-year-old South Carolina man has been charged with homicide
by child abuse after authorities say he killed his five-month-old son.
Lexington County Sheriff James Metts
says a judge denied bond Thursday for Lexie Dial III of Gaston.
Authorities say Dial shook his son, Joshua, so violently
Tuesday night at their home that the boy stopped breathing. Paramedics took the boy to a hospital, where he died the next
day from swelling and bleeding on his brain.
It was not immediately clear if Dial had an attorney. He could face life
in prison if convicted.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- A Lyman man was sentenced to 15 years
in prison after pleading guilty to felony child abuse on Monday. A Lyman man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony child abuse on Monday.
Brian Hollingsworth was arrested after his 23-day-old baby was found to have suffered
skull fractures and broken ribs, investigators said. They said Hollingsworth admitted to beating the baby.
Lexington County (WLTX) -A man charged with homicide by child abuse has been denied bond.
Christopher Jason Elrod, 30, had his first
appearance in Lexington County Bond Court, Saturday afternoon. According to Lexington County Detention Center officials, he
was denied bond and future court dates are pending. He is still being detained at the Lexington County Detention Center.
Elrod was arrested Friday by Lexington
County Sheriff's Deputies who say he killed his daughter by suffocation. He's been charged with homicide by child
The warrant against
him states that on December 7, 2008, Elrod held his daughter, Calen Elrod, tightly against his body. Deputies say his actions
obstructed the girl's ability to breath, and the coroner's office determined she died from suffocation.
Deputies say on Friday, an interview
with Elrod allowed them to get information that helped establish probable cause in the case, allowing them to formally charge
Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 4:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 4:47 p.m.
CHESNEE — An 8-year-old girl who wanted to spend Wednesday afternoon swimming was brutally shot
to death by the estranged husband of her father’s girlfriend, authorities say.
The Spartanburg County
Sheriff’s Office plans to charge 50-year-old Ricky Lee Blackwell, of 248 Ridings Road, with murder and kidnapping once
he recovers from surgery.
Officials said Blackwell grabbed the child, put her in a headlock and shot her once in the
head not far from his double-wide mobile home. The man proceeded to shoot her at least three more times as she was falling
to the ground, and perhaps while she was on the ground, Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said.
occurred about 3 p.m. on 244 Ridings Road — a narrow road in a rural area of Spartanburg County not far south of Highway
11 between Chesnee and New Prospect. A few mobile homes are the only dwellings on the road.
Blackwell and his wife used
to live together on Ridings Road, though the two are now estranged. Their adult daughter lives in a unit nearby, at 244 Ridings
Road — the scene of the crime.
Blackwell’s estranged wife brought her boyfriend’s child, Heather,
to 244 Ridings Road Wednesday afternoon to go swimming.
“When she got here, her estranged husband showed up —
he lives next door — I don’t know if he saw her pull in, if he knew she was coming or what,” said Master
Deputy Tony Ivey with the Sheriff’s Office said. “That’s when everything took place.”
Brooke Center, 8, of 981 Lightwood Knot Road in Woodruff, died from a gunshot wound to the head, Clevenger said. He called
the shooting “heinous.”
Deputies were dispatched to the scene just before 3 p.m., a criminal domestic violence
They arrived and saw the girl, Heather, lying facedown in a driveway. She had a gunshot wound in one leg, a pool
of blood in the center of her back, and blood coming from her right ear, according to an incident report. She did not show
any signs of life.
Witnesses said Blackwell fled into the nearby woods. Investigators arrived and began searching for
Blackwell emerged and shot himself in the side, Sheriff Chuck Wright said. When asked whether that was an attempt
at suicide, Wright said he thought so.
“Once our officers got on the scene, people here, at the home, began to
point in the direction of Ricky’s home and said, ‘He’s that way.’ That’s when deputies began
sweeping the area,” Ivey said.
Deputies had their guns drawn and ordered the man to drop his weapon. He wouldn’t,
Ivey said. They did not fire at Blackwell, Wright said.
Late Wednesday, Blackwell was just out of surgery. Wright said
investigators wanted to make sure he was fully coherent before they interviewed him so there would be “no excuses”
When the Herald-Journal contacted the girl’s biological father, Bobby Center, late Tuesday, he said,
“Now is not a good time” but indicated he may be able to talk about his daughter in the near future.
long Blackwell and his estranged wife have been separated wasn’t immediately clear.
“It’s a bad scene,”
Wright said. “You have a baby who is deceased who had nothing to do with it. It’s pitiful.”
who asked not to be identified, said they rarely heard any commotion from the residences over on Ridings Road.
must have just lost it,” one neighbor said. “I really don’t know why he done what he done. But in my mind,
Ricky has always been a fine man.”
comment from Defend--- Losing it is no excuse
for harming anyone much less an innocent child. We believe this was an act of a depraved individual and not simply
a good man who lost it. Everyone has stress and many get divorced and deal with exs finding others and they cope with
it. This was cold blooded murder and it is more than likely not the first act of violence this man has committed.
He wanted to hurt this child's father and he met his goal. May this little girl rest in peace.
JAMES T. DICKERSON
Victim(s): Jeremy Dickerson (7 years)
Date of Death: July 2009
Father with "full
custody" charged in son's beating death.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- An 18-year-old man is
now charged with homicide by child abuse after his girlfriend's 1-year-old son died Thursday of severe injuries.
battered child, identified as Xavier Lee Polston, was brought to Greenville Memorial Hospital on Tuesday night. He had been
in critical condition and taken off life support just before noon on Thursday.
Deputies said that the child was a victim
of severe child abuse. Investigators said he was punched, slapped, struck with a belt and dropped 3 to 4 feet to the ground.
Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, EMS was called to Heritage Mobile Home Park off Anderson Road after a report of a child not breathing.
Deputies said that they found the baby's mother, Christina Angelina Miraglia, and her boyfriend, Timothy Leroy Massey,
kneeling near the child inside the mobile home.
Lt. Tim Ridgeway with the Greenville County Sheriff's office said
emergency medical workers performed CPR on the 1-year-old and took him to Greenville Memorial.
hard to see a child injured like this," Ridgeway added. "It's traumatic for everybody to see something like
this because they're so helpless."
Deputies said Massey was alone with the baby and Miraglia's 4-year-old
child when the injuries occurred.
Miraglia will not be charged in the case, investigators said, but the 4-year-old was
removed from the home and is in Department of Social Services custody.
The 4-year-old was also bruised around the face
and had a bite mark on his shoulder, the sheriff's office said.
Massey is being held without bond in the Greenville
County Detention Center. If convicted, Massey faces 20 years to life in prison on the homicide charge.
take long for people at the Heritage Mobile Home Park to learn that the boy had been hurt.
"To be honest with you,
I think I had maybe two hours of sleep last night because I haven't done anything but cry," said neighbor Debbie
"It's real sad to me and all of us," neighbor Betty Whitaker told WYFF News 4's Myra Ruiz.
"It's tore our nerves up.
"This would be another example of a young individual that finds himself in a
situation where either they're not able to control their emotions or for some reason they were just forced into doing
something they wouldn't normally do," said Greenville Sheriff's Office Deputy Matthew Armstrong.
home park manager said that Miraglia, Massey and the children had just moved in on Monday.
"The child was struck,
the child was dropped, the child was also beaten with a closed fist, open fist, as well as a belt," Armstrong said.
Baby Died From Starvation
of starved toddler stay in foster care
Three children living in a dilapidated S.C. home where a starving
toddler was found will remain in foster care as their parents face homicide charges.
The Item of Sumter reported Friday
that Family Court Judge Jeffrey Young ruled the children - ages 4, 6 and 9 - will remain in protective custody while officials
decide if the youngsters can be released to relatives.
The 17-month-old boy weighed less than 9 pounds before he died.
He was found Monday in a home in Sumter infested with rodents and dog feces.
Twenty-three-year-old Marketta McCray and
her husband, 25-year-old Kevin Isaac, face charges including homicide by child abuse or neglect. They could face life in prison
if they are convicted.
Parents ordered to take parenting classes while facing possible 20 years to life for murder
by child abuse.
The parents of
a Bamberg County baby are facing child abuse charges…Harold Edward George, Jr., 23, is accused of injuring
his eight-month-old daughter. The child’s mother, 21-year-old Thelma George is accused of allowing the abuse, and failing
to report it.
Month-Old Baby’s Skull Fractured; Father Arrested
Father Hit Baby, Fractured
His Skull, Deputies Say
POSTED: 9:11 am EST January 24, 2008
11:20 am EST January 24, 2008
GREENVILLE, S.C. --
the father of a 1-month-old baby whose skull was found to be fractured.
Deputies said the investigation started after
the baby’s parents took him to the hospital. They told doctors that their child was just not acting normally.
mother is the one that noticed something wasn’t right,” said Master Deputy Michael Hildebrand. “She called
her parents and that’s how the child ended up in the hospital.”
Doctors said when the baby boy arrived at
the hospital last Tuesday, he had several fractures in his skull. Doctors told deputies the injuries appeared to be the result
of child abuse.
then started asking the baby’s parents questions.
“The father came down here for an interview,” Hildebrand
said. “As we were talking to him he admitted to hitting the child in the head, which we believed caused some of the
Deputies said 26-year-old William Dickson admitted he hit the baby on Jan. 12. They said the baby
wasn’t taken to a doctor until five days later.
The baby is now hooked up to a ventilator, but is expected to
Dickson was being held at the Greenville County Detention Center on a $100,000 bond.
2008 by foxcarolina.com
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