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Man pleads in assault of stepson

April 22, 1999

A Hagerstown man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court to the second-degree assault of his stepson, earning a 15-month suspended sentence.

Jerry Daniel Burchette, 26, of 338 South St., also had been charged with child abuse but the prosecution dropped that charge in exchange for the guilty plea to assault.

"There is no history of abuse here," said defense attorney Mary Riley, adding that Burchette went to parenting classes on his own after he was charged.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Gina Cirincion agreed that Burchette's record was clear of past abuse.

Judge Donald Beachley placed Burchette on probation for two years, ordered him to perform 25 hours of community service and to continue counseling.

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"I apologize ... I realize I have a parenting problem. I ask that everybody stick by me while I'm putting my life together," Burchette said.

The March 1998 incident occurred while Burchette was watching his infant son and his then 20-month-old stepson. Initially, Burchette told authorities that his stepson must have fallen in another room, breaking his left femur or thighbone, court records said.

Burchette later admitted his stepson was misbehaving and in an effort to spank him, Burchette grabbed him by the side and he fell to the floor, court records said.

Not realizing the bone was broken, Burchette put the child on the sofa and only later noticed the boy's left leg was twisted and bent.

Beachley also ordered Burchette to have no contact with his stepson.

- Marlo Barnhart

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