CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield doctor, charged with the murder of a missing nurse, is now sentenced for child neglect.
John E. Gibbs is in the center of a murder investigation, after his girlfriend, Zulma Pabon went missing. The couple had a child together, who was four at the time of her disappearance.
In the months following his mom going missing, the child began acting out in daycare, according to court testimony. Multiple behavioral reports were filed, stating the four-year-old would repeatedly swear, kick, scream, and misbehave.
One written report stated he told the teacher he was going to "get my father's gun and kill you," then turning to classmates saying, "I'll kill you, too."
Another report stated he shoved a classmate, who fell and hit his head. The detective said the behavioral issues started after the child's mom went missing, with no reports of issues at past daycares.
All of this was discovered after a child neglect investigation was launched, after the four-year-old was discovered wandering alone near a Costco. Police discovered there was another incident before that, where the boy was found at the pool. That incident went unreported.
In both cases, detectives believe the timing lined up with appointments Gibbs had with the child's teachers, leading those detectives to believe he left the child unsupervised.
Through the investigation, detectives were told that the child often slept in Gibbs' office in the hospital. Search warrants show pillows and toys were discovered under the doctor's desk. However, the defense argued that nothing dangerous was found in the office.
Search history pulled from Gibbs' phone showed the doctor had searched how to legally abandon a child. The online history also showed an article was read about a child being legally abandoned in Nevada, followed by a search on how to do the same in Virginia.
His online history also showed searches for when you could leave a child home alone.
During the investigation, the child has been living with Gibbs' sister in North Carolina. The aunt took the stand Tuesday, explaining the little boy would often come stay with her for lengths at a time.
While in her care, the child was referred to a local counselor. She also testified Tuesday, on behalf of the defense. She stated he was a happy, energetic little boy who shared happy memories of his dad.
Gibbs, in a jail jumpsuit and cuffs, addressed the judge after evidence and witness testimony. He said he made a mistake and was doing his best as a parent, that he loved his son.
The judge sentenced Gibbs to five years for the child neglect charge, suspending four years and six months. This means he will only serve six months behind bars - the majority has already been served.
However, he will not be leaving jail any time soon, as he still faces murder charges for Pabon's disappearance. He will be back in court for that sentencing hearing on April 11.
The court has set aside two weeks for the murder trial.
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