Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dad abuses 4-month-old baby during visitation; pleads guilty to felony child neglect (Barboursville, West Virginia)

Notice that all this took place at the "father's residence," meaning that this was a custody/visitation situation.

Babies do not need contact with non-committed fathers. They don't benefit from this kind of contact in any way, shape, or form. They need consistent loving care with their mothers. Only a dogmatic fathers rights position would say otherwise. And too often we see the results.

Dad is identified as SHAWN GRAVES.


Toddler improves ahead of father's final punishment

Aug. 18, 2015 @ 12:01 AM


BARBOURSVILLE - DaMarcus Graves could soon be a walking miracle, a little more than a year after his limp body became the focal point of a case involving shaken-baby syndrome.

Medical experts had advised the family that the infant, then 4 1/2 months, may remain deaf and blind and never develop an ability to swallow or make voluntary movement.

"He has surpassed all of that," said Graves' mother, Shay Harper. "When he was first in the hospital we were excited that he moved his toe, and he's doing so much more now."

Mother and son take another step this week. They will appear before Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell, where Harper will urge the judge to stick with prison time for the child's father, Shawn Anthony Graves.

The local rap artist, also known as Sg Tha Yunggin, entered a Kennedy plea in June to felony child neglect. Farrell immediately ordered the maximum, 1- to 5-year prison sentence, but will hear a defense argument for leniency Wednesday.

The Kennedy plea allowed for the conviction without Shawn Graves admitting or explaining his role in the crime.

Initial court filings state Shawn Graves, 22, of Huntington, told police early on that he shook his son back and forth without supporting his head. The incident occurred June 21, 2014, at the father's residence in the 1800 block of 12th Avenue, where Harper dropped off the child for supervision.

Emergency crews described the infant's body as limp and lifeless. Medical tests revealed a brain bleed, according to the initial filings.

DaMarcus Graves, now 18 months, lives with limited vision, dramatically improved hearing and swallows about an ounce or two of baby food each day, Harper said. He also can lift his head for longer periods of time, which is considered an accomplishment given his injuries and the placement of a shunt.

Within the past two months, DaMarcus Graves developed the ability to stand with the aid of equipment. Harper said that progress convinces herself and nurses he could be ready for a walker very soon.

"I'm just astounded," she said. "I bought him a Cookie Monster doll. I watched him focus on that doll and he loves the sound of (the doll's) voice. He has started reaching for the doll, and he wasn't reaching before."

Shawn Graves defended himself within hours of the incident in a series of tweets, including one which said, "Facing 2 to 10 years for something I didn't do. Smh."

Defense attorney Dennis Kelley acknowledged the plea agreement, but said Friday their side takes exception with the prosecution's idea of intent and causation. The defense believes something beyond his client's actions caused the child's injuries, including the potential of a pre-existing condition.

"I was always concerned about the timeline," he said. "My client had the child for a short period of time. Obviously the risk set forth with going to trial versus the offer was what my client wanted to do."

Kelley plans to argue for alternative sentencing Wednesday. Possibilities include probation, although he estimates credit for more than a year already behind bars could make his client eligible for parole within six months.

Harper, somewhat frustrated that Shawn Graves was allowed to plead no contest to a less serious offense, said she will urge Farrell to show no leniency.

"Not only for my child and myself," she said in opposing leniency. "That shows the community, the public, these people who harm children can just go back out in the street. That is a danger.

"... I am his voice, that is no justice for him. Nobody knows how he feels, and that is a very short sentence because Shawn Graves feels nothing compared to what my son feels," Harper added.

An April 2015 superseding indictment charged Shawn Graves with felony child abuse. The no contest plea to child neglect, a lesser included offense, resolved the case and reduced the maximum punishment from a 2- to 10-year prison sentence to a 1- to 5-year stint.

Harper recalled accepting the plea agreement with some resistance, after a prosecutor advised she needed to in light of Shawn Graves' willingness to take the lesser conviction.