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Father sentenced for abuse of infant

August 09, 2000

Father sentenced for abuse of infant



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man convicted of shaking his infant son so violently that the child required brain surgery avoided a state prison sentence Wednesday so that he will be able to help pay for the boy's treatment and living expenses.

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"The request of the mother and the needs of the victim warrant a local sentence," Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom said after the sentencing of William F. Owen in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

She said the boy's mother, Jennifer Owen, "requested that he be allowed to serve time locally so that he could work to help support the baby."

Owen, 26, formerly of 61N. Main St., was sentenced by Judge Richard J. Walsh to seven years on probation for endangering the welfare of a child, a third-degree felony. As part of the sentence, Owen was ordered to serve 23 months and 15 days in Franklin County Prison.

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The Probation Department recommended a two- to seven-year state prison sentence, Krom said.

Borough police had charged William Owen in February with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child after an investigation into injuries Anthony Owen received at his home Jan. 20.

Owen pleaded guilty to the endangering charge June 23, according to court records.

The affidavit of probable cause said William Owen was watching television when Anthony, then 5 months old, began to cry. Owen "picked Anthony up from his carrier with his hands under his arms and shook him while asking what was wrong," the affidavit said.

"Anthony then went into a hysterical cry and a short time later went limp," the affidavit said. In early February the boy underwent surgery for a brain hemorrhage at Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center.

Other injuries included a retinal hemorrhage and fractured ribs, police records said.

Krom said Wednesday that Anthony, now 11 months old, has a permanent shunt in his head to drain fluid from his brain and must wear glasses, but appeared happy and alert in court.

"It's too early to tell if he'll have lasting neurological problems," she said.

Assistant Public Defender David Romano said Walsh ordered Owen to undergo a mental health evaluation and take anger management classes. Owen is also barred from having any unsupervised visits with his son.

Krom said Jennifer Owen "really needs the help" from any income William Owen can earn. She said the mother has found it difficult to hold a job because of the frequent trips to Hershey for her son's follow-up treatments.

"It really was the needs of the victim that were more important than anything else," Romano said.

William Owen has been in jail since February, part of that time serving out a sentence for a parole violation on a retail theft conviction, according to court records. Walsh gave him credit for time served since May 29.

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