A Staunton, Virginia, woman will spend just three days behind bars for her role in the beating death of her boyfriend’s 6-year-old son.
The News Leader reported that Brianna Connolly, 20, pleaded guilty Thursday to felony child neglect. She was ultimately sentenced to 10 years with nine years and 362 days suspended—leaving her to serve three days in jail.
Connolly testified against her boyfriend, Steven Decker, 26, during his murder trial. On August 16, a jury convicted Decker of second-degree murder and child abuse for the beating death of Ezra Miller. A jury recommended a 27-year prison sentence.
Investigators said Ezra was taken to the hospital with head trauma and bruising on February 1, 2016. The 6-year-old died from his injuries two days later.
In addition to the fatal injuries, Dr. Jennifer Bowers of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner testified that Ezra suffered severe spinal trauma that could have led to paralysis had he survived.
Authorities believe Steven beat his son to death because he wet the bed. Testimony revealed that Ezra was diagnosed attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), had bed-wetting issues, and a slight speech impediment.
Child Protective Services (CPS) intervened on two occasions after elementary school officials suspected the 6-year-old was being abused. The Shenandoah Valley Social Services recently told the News Leader that Ezra’s death hasn’t led to any policy changes at CPS.
“We didn’t receive any corrective feedback or anything of that nature,” assistant director of Shenandoah Valley Social Services Lisa Dunn said. “We do look at our processes all the time. Especially when there’s a child fatality.”
There was no indication that Connolly took part in injuring Ezra. However, the Staunton Commonwealth Attorney’s Office said she was aware of Steven’s abuse but failed to intervene. Prosecutors also claimed that Connolly didn’t call for help the day Ezra was severely beaten, the local paper reported.
Steven originally told doctors that his son slipped in the shower. An emergency room physician refuted his account, noting that Ezra’s injuries “indicated multiple blows or injuries from different directions.”
Decker will reappear in court for sentencing on November 16.
[Featured Image: WVIR]