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Former Washington Township woman gets prison in scalding case

October 10, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A woman convicted of simple assault for the scalding of her young daughter was sentenced this week in Franklin County Court to spend 1 1/2 to six years in state prison.

Lallitra L. Coppedge, 34, formerly of Washington Township, also was ordered to pay more than $83,000 in restitution for the April 23, 2007, scalding of her then-3-year-old daughter, Destiny, according to court records.

A jury convicted Coppedge in August of first-degree misdemeanor simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, but acquitted her of a felony aggravated assault charge. Washington Township police charged her in the incident in which her daughter sustained second-degree burns over about one-third of her body from scalding bath water.

A conviction on the aggravated assault charge would have meant a minimum of five years in prison under state law.

Coppedge testified at trial that she put Destiny in the bathtub of their King's Road home, then went to a bedroom to get her infant daughter ready for bed. She heard Destiny splashing and yelled at her to stop.

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Coppedge testified that, a few minutes later, "I heard my baby scream, crazily scream."

Coppedge testified that her boyfriend was downstairs watching the television show "24" at the time Destiny got into the bathtub and that she took the child to the emergency room within about 25 minutes. On cross-examination, however, Assistant District Attorney Lauren Sulcove pointed out that the show started at 9 p.m. and hospital logs showed them arriving at 11:03 p.m.

Pediatrician Dr. Michael Goldstein testified at the trial that Destiny had undergone several skin graft surgeries since the incident and will undergo more as she grows up.

Goldstein also had testified he believed the injuries were inflicted intentionally, along with loop-shaped bruises also found on the girl.

Police seized a computer from the home, which was analyzed by a special agent with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office. He testified that within hours of the incident, the computer was used to search the Internet for information on methods used to diagnose child abuse in burn patients.

That suggested "consciousness of guilt," Sulcove said in her closing argument at the trial.

In addition to the prison time and restitution for medical expenses, Judge Douglas W. Herman ordered Coppedge not to have any unsupervised contact with minors.

Coppedge's two children were placed in foster care following the incident.

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