A Lehigh County judge sentenced a Lower Milford woman Friday to one to two years in prison and 18 years' probation for abusing her 6-month-old son earlier this year.
Chelsie Grant, 19, who pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault, faced 10 to 20 years in prison under sentencing guidelines. Her guity plea and other mitigating circumstances, including her low intelligence, mental health and remorse, contributed to the short jail sentence, Judge James T. Anthony said.
"It's a very serious crime you committed," Anthony said. "You are obviously not capable of raising a child."
Anthony criticized the adults in her family for not contacting Lehigh County Children and Youth earlier.
The child's paternal grandmother, who has custody of the boy, now 16 months old, and his 6-month-old sister who was born in prison, gasped as the sentence was read. Assistant District Attorney Anna-Kristie Marks declined to comment.
"I think the judge did the right thing," said Carol Marciano, Grant's attorney. "Chelsie is not evil. She's very troubled and [the judge] took into consideration all the mitigating circumstances."
Marciano said Grant, who is eligible for parole in a year, might never be granted custody of her children.
Grant was arrested in February for systematic abuse of her 6-month old son, including:
- Twisting and breaking the baby's arms
- Choking him
- Shoving objects into his throat
Grant, who waived her preliminary hearing in late February, pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of felony aggravated assault that can carry a sentence of a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years. Grant originally was charged with one count of attempted homicide and two counts of felony aggravated assault.
According to the criminal complaint, Grant brought her son to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest on Jan. 12, claiming his father had abused the boy. Emergency room doctors confirmed the boy had several injuries, including a right elbow dislocation and fractures of both arms and legs.
Despite claiming at first that the boy's father caused the injuries, she later confessed to abusing her son. When confessing, Grant reenacted the abuse with a doll. The complaint says Grant "placed one hand on the child's chest and used the other hand to pull the arms of the child as far as she could several times in each direction. She then grabbed the ankles of the victim and twisted them in both directions and pushed both legs up toward the chest of the child and pulled them down forcefully several times."
She also admitted to shoving spoons and paper down the baby's throat.