Saturday, February 8, 2014

Custodial dad pleads no contest, found guilty in abuse of son; boy was nearly starved to death (Titusville, Florida)

STILL no word on how dad MICHAEL MARSHALL got custody of this boy, or whatever happened to his mother.

Father of abused boy pleads no contest, found guilty

Feb. 7, 2014 11:05 PM

Father of starved boy pleads no contest

Written by Andrew Ford, FLORIDA TODAY

Michael Marshall, the father of a boy who was starved nearly to death, was found guilty of 10 charges related to child abuse, exposing him to at least 19.25 years in prison. / Andrew Ford, FLORIDA TODAY

In a low, almost mumbling voice, the father of a Titusville boy who was starved nearly to death explained himself before a judge and a jury box filled with reporters.

"We wasn't tryin to hurt him or anything,” Michael Marshall said. “We were trying to help him, but went the wrong way about it."

Marshall, who pleaded no contest Friday to 10 felony charges that expose him to at least 19 years in prison, said he and his co-defendant were trying to correct the boy’s behavior. Marshall’s plea agreement caps his possible sentence at 30 years.

Marshall walked into court in a yellow jail outfit and flip-flops, with shackles around his wrists and ankles. He had a short, spiky haircut, quite different from the shoulder length hair he had when he was arrested.

State Prosecutor Will Scheiner accused Marshall of many abuses: locking the boy in a closet and in a bathroom, zip-tying him to the vertical post of a bunk bed.

Judge David Dugan said most of Marshall’s explanation would be relevant at his sentencing, which is scheduled for April 4. But after Marhsall said he is being treated for ADHD and bi-polar disorder, and he didn’t know what “no contest” means, the judge asked Marshall a series of questions establishing that his plea was voluntary and that he understood it.

Dugan asked a few questions about Marshall and his co-defendant, Sharon Glass, who was found guilty of similar crimes last month.

Marshall: "The thing about the bed post is um, (the boy) um, he said he can't uh – what did he say—oh he said he was gonna, uh, commit suicide, and uh, and he said it can't get any worse than it is. So um, you know, (Glass) was just showing him that, you know, that this is how bad it can get. And um, uh, and he was only there for like, maybe half hour to 40 minutes."

A man in the audience cupped his hand to his ear, apparently straining to hear Marshall speak.

Judge: "All right, how bout the bathroom?"

Marshall: "Well um, the bathroom was uh the last part of, uh – he got out of everything we did, and what, what, uh, Sharon said to me was, uh, that she's tryin to get him down to, uh, the lowest point, you know how druggies go to, uh, the lowest point."

Judge: "Sharon was trying to get (the boy) to the lowest point?"

Marshall: "Yeah like uh, rock bottom, yeah. Rock bottom. And, cuz he was lying and cheating and stealing stuff. We were tryin’ to you know, uh, teach him not to lie, not to steal, and uh, I think we showed him jails on my computer and everything, and we would just have to toughen him. But um, we were, um, it was basically uh, tryin’ to, get him to be a good boy, basically. She said then, it's a good thing that hitting rock bottom, and then he might straighten up.”

Marshall was expressionless as he described his actions.

Judge: “It seemed like you were saying that (the boy) said it couldn't get any worse, he was going to commit suicide, and it sounded like your response was to zip-tie him to the bed."

Marshall: "Yeah, um..."

Judge: "That's the kind of thing that we're going to flesh out at sentencing."