Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dad enters plea for severely abusing 11-week-old son (Gate City, Virginia)

Dad is identified as JEREMY SCOTT OWENS.

Father enters plea in Scott abuse case

July 1st, 2014 9:08 pm
by Wes Bunch

GATE CITY — A Southwest Virginia man could spend up to 50 years in prison after he entered Alford pleas to charges of severely abusing his infant son in Scott County.

Jeremy Scott Owens, 37, of Duffield, entered Alford pleas to charges of malicious wounding and felony abuse and neglect of a child during a June 23 appearance in Scott County Circuit Court.

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but does admit that the evidence against him would likely lead to a conviction.

The charges stem from a Jan. 4, 2014, incident that left his then 11-week old son with a broken leg and multiple broken ribs, police reports have shown.

Owens is set to be sentenced on Sept. 5, 2014. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 40 years in prison on the aggravated malicious wounding charge and an additional 10 years on the abuse and neglect charge.

Scott County Commonwealth's Attorney Marcus McClung said his office had to pursue malicious wounding charges instead of aggravated malicious wounding because the child did not suffer permanent injuries.

"Aggravated malicious wounding carries a life sentence, and that's what we charged him with, but to get an aggravated malicious wounding conviction, you have to prove the injuries were permanent," McClung said. "The last medical report we got said the baby made a full recovery, so it does limit us to not being able to ask for a life sentence anymore, but we can ask for 40 years on the malicious wounding and another 10 years on the other charge for a total of 50 years."

The Scott County Sheriff's Office began investigating the abuse claims on Jan. 5 after the child was taken to Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap for treatment of unspecified injuries. The infant was later transferred to Niswonger Children's Hospital in Johnson City.

Niswonger doctors determined the boy suffered a broken femur and a total of six broken ribs — three on each side. Owens was arrested by the Johnson City Police Department on Jan. 8 at Niswonger.

Authorities have not said how the child's injuries were inflicted. Those details are expected to be made public during Scott's sentencing hearing in September.

At the time the charges were brought, investigators said the abuse occurred at the child's mother's residence in Scott County's Bishoptown community. The mother has not been charged in the case.

The Scott County Department of Social Services assisted the sheriff's office in the investigation.