Colorado Springs Gazette
July 16, 2002

Grandmother gets 10 years for abuse

By Bill Hethcock
The Gazette (Colorado Springs)

A woman who pleaded guilty to severely abusing her 6-year-old grandson was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for acts a judge described as "torture."

Prosecutors said the 47-year-old woman, Faith, teamed with her daughter to burn, beat and starve the boy for three months. The Gazette is withholding the family's last name to protect the child's identity.

Judge Tom Kennedy of the 4th Judicial District said he would have sentenced the woman to more time if the punishment had not been capped by a plea bargain. Kennedy said it's the worst child abuse he's seen in 20 years as a judge, prosecutor and defense attorney.

"What you did to that child was torture, that's the only word for it," Kennedy said. "Torture for the sole purpose of inflicting pain on another human being.

"You call upon me to give you mercy. Did you show mercy for this young boy as he screamed in pain while you tortured him?"

Faith pleaded guilty in May to two counts of felony child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Her daughter, Tonya, 28, is scheduled for trial Sept. 10 on six counts of the same charge and one count of conspiracy to commit child abuse. Prosecutors allege the abuse occurred from December to Feb. 20.

El Paso County sheriff's detective Teresa Murphy said there is no penalty harsh enough for happened to the boy.

"It's a miracle this child is alive," she said.

Prosecutor Christian Schwaner showed photos of the boy's burns, wounds and scars to the judge.

Schwaner said Faith and Tonya taped red-hot quarters all over the child's body, burned him with a barbecue lighter and scalded him with steam. The women would pick at his wounds when they began to heal.

They would choke the boy until he passed out, force his 8-year-old sister to kick and punch him in the genitals and use duct-tape to cover the boy's head or bind him for days to a kitchen table, Schwaner said. The women told the boy he was Lucifer, forced him to sleep taped and gagged in a dog kennel, and rarely fed him, the prosecutor said.

Faith appeared in court handcuffed and wearing a blue El Paso County jail uniform. She showed little emotion, even when proclaiming her love for the grandchild she pleaded guilty to abusing.

"Whatever you give me today is everything I deserve," she told Kennedy.

"I'm sorry for what I've done, and I love my grandchildren."

Her public defender, Cynthia Jones, asked Kennedy for a probationary sentence. Jones said Faith has learned her lesson during 114 days in jail and realizes she won't see her grandchildren again. Faith did not inflict the bulk of the abuse, Jones said.

Faith is an uneducated woman who didn't know how to show affection, Jones said.

"The love that she felt for the children was not expressed in the correct way," she said.

Tonya, who was in court, said she was out of state on a 21/2-month trip with her husband, a trucker, during the time the abuse was alleged.

Tonya, who is free on bond, attempted to speak to her mother in court, but Faith told her to go home and moved to the opposite side of the courtroom. Sheriff's deputies warned Tonya she would be kicked out if she continued to try to speak to her mother.

Copyright 2002, The Gazette, a Freedom Communications, Inc. Company.