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Hagerstown man sentenced to prison for beating 4-year-old with belt

July 28, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

A 32-year-old man who admitted Tuesday to beating a 4-year-old girl with a belt was sentenced by a Washington County Circuit Court judge to serve four years and six months in state prison.

Dwayne Joseph Artis, whose last known address is 31 E. Washington St., apartment 22, in Hagerstown, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree assault in connection with the Jan. 22 reported incident, in which a 4-year-old girl told her elementary school principal that she had been beaten by her mother's boyfriend with a belt, leaving her with red and blue bruises on her arms, back, buttocks and legs.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Steven Kessell said the incident occurred while Artis was watching the girl, whose mother also is the mother of Artis' child. Artis, he said, did not live at the home in the 17000 block of Apple Blossom Court.

Artis' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Eric Reed, said Artis had two convictions - one in April 2003 and one in April 2002 - on second-degree assault charges, which Kessell said were related to abusing children.

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Kessell said Artis also was charged in 1995 in New Jersey with endangering the welfare of a child.

Artis shot up out of the defendant's chair and, when acknowledged, said, "They said it was endangering the welfare of a child. There was no child abuse. It was 'cause I was in the house with a child when they found the drugs."

The girl's grandmother, who said she took the girl following Artis' charges, told McDowell: "I don't believe he has the right to be out there in society. If he can do this to children, what could he do to adults?"

Reed argued that "this is not a case where any medical attention was required." But, he said, "It doesn't take away from what happened."

"He is 32, he is single, although he does have three children, he was in compliance with other conditions of his probation," he said.

Artis, when given a chance to speak, apologized.

"I'm not out to hurt them. I love them. I love them just as they were my own."

"I gave them ..." he said, holding his arms out while he searched for words. " ... a punishment or whatever you want to call it."

McDowell told Artis that his record is "deplorable."

"Add to that you were on probation for two assaults, two assaults on children with backup time of six or seven years," he said.

McDowell, looking over the girl's statement, said the girl was "sad, mad and scared as a result of your actions."

"You have no control of your physical abuse of kids by your own actions," McDowell said.

He gave Artis credit for the 168 days he's already served in prison and recommended that Artis go through boot camp.

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