LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - Thirty years, with all but seven suspended. That's the sentence for a Louisa woman convicted of abusing her own granddaughter.
Laura Jewell showed no emotion during today's hearing. Before learning her fate, Jewell told the judge she loves her grandchildren.
The judge called this a very sad case. That most people have more concern for a stray animal than Jewell had for this little girl.
Jewell bowed her head, as the judge questioned whether she was the caring and loving grandmother her lawyer tried to make her out to be.
Jewell told the court most of her granddaughter's injuries were self inflicted. The Commonwealth compared the child's fear to 9/11.
Prosecutors said it's hard to believe a seven year old would pull on her ears to the point of tearing and bleeding.
Jewell had also claimed her granddaughter's little brother pulled out her hair and bubblegum was also the reason why clumps were missing.
"Can a three- or four-year-old pull clumps of human hair from a skull? The bubble gum in the hair I think one piece plausible, two pieces maybe, but three, four, five spots, I think the court saw through that," said Louisa Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Garrett.
The judge told Jewell the photos of the girl's injuries don't lie. He called them horrendous.
Garrett said she risked death last summer to escape by jumping 15 feet off a balcony.
She was found at a neighbors house with bruises, clumps of hair missing and wearing a soiled pull-up diaper.
"Why would a child climb over a second story balcony and that is the analogy made was on September 11th, the flames were so hot behind those people in the Twin Towers that some chose to jump. In this instance she chose to jump because there was a pot that if it had fallen would have awoken Mrs. Jewell and the evidence indicates there would be beatings again for the child going out the door," said Garrett.
The defense attorney argued Jewell cooked meals, kept house, taught her grandchildren to read and prayed with them before bed.
He told the court, the little girl had emotional and control issues. That she would attempt to harm herself and others during her temper tantrums.
But the judge said the court sensed a general lack of feeling or real care for the child.
The Commonwealth said the child endured unimaginable brutality and emotional trauma at the hands of Jewell.
"Not only did she not care for the child but she took steps to harm the child," said Garrett.
The case prompted a state lawmaker to propose legislation this year to strengthen penalties for child abusers, but a disappointed Garrett said the bill was tabled because of perceived fiscal impacts on increased incarcerations.
"Certainly we're mindful of the cost and the expense incurred at this point when you do a cost benefit analysis I think these are the sorts of crimes that deserve tougher sentences," said Garrett.
Jewell was sentenced to 20 years with 15 suspended for malicious wounding and 10 years with eight suspended for child abuse. Jewell will serve seven years.
The judge told her not to have any contact with the victim or her siblings.