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W.Va. woman sentenced to maximum 50 years in death of infant son

June 07, 2010|By DON AINES
  • Monica W. Boggs
Submitted photo,

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A 20-year-old Hedgesville, W.Va., woman was sentenced Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court to a maximum of 50 years in state prison for the 2008 death of her infant son.

Judge Gray Silver III of the 23rd Judicial Circuit sentenced Monica W. Boggs to 40 years for death of a child by a parent, custodian, guardian or other person by child abuse in the death of 7-month-old Skylar Boggs, who died Aug. 20, 2008, of injuries he sustained two days earlier when he was tossed into his crib and fractured his skull on a toy piano.

Silver sentenced Boggs to an additional term of one to five years for her conviction on a charge of child abuse resulting in bodily injury; and another one to five years on a charge of gross child neglect creating substantial risk of bodily injury. Both are to be served consecutively to the child-death sentence.

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"I regret it and I'm going to have to deal with it," Boggs said of her son's death before the sentence was handed down.

Boggs, formerly of 8791 Hedgesville Road, was convicted of the charges in a September jury trial. She was five months pregnant at the time of the trial, a published report said.

"She's a sweet girl. She wouldn't hurt anybody. This was a tragic accident," said Boggs' father, Rich Boggs, who asked the court for leniency. "I'm just asking for another chance for Monica."

"Because of her silence, this child died," said Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely. "She had knowledge the child struck his head and did not seek medical treatment."

In addition to the Aug. 18, 2008, incident in which the baby was thrown into his crib and hit his head, there was evidence at trial that Skylar Boggs was injured Aug. 16, 2008, when hit by a baby bottle thrown by his mother. Monica Boggs did not immediately seek medical treatment for her child after either of the incidents.

Prior to the sentencing, Silver denied a motion by defense attorney B. Craig Manford to grant Boggs a new trial. Manford said the sentence will be appealed. He argued that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence because "there was not an intent to cause bodily injury."

An autopsy photo of Skylar Boggs' injuries should not have been allowed to be seen in court, Manford argued. The photo, though cropped and in black and white instead of its original color, "certainly invoked the passion of the jury," he said.

There was sufficient evidence presented for the jury to reach the verdict it did, Silver said. The court also accommodated defense concerns about the injury photo by having it cropped and the color removed before it was presented to the jury, the judge said.

Manford also asked Silver to consider alternative sentencing, such as the Youthful Offender Program, in which Boggs could be placed for up to two years while receiving treatment and training. Boggs has a low IQ of 80, low self-esteem and other mental-health issues due to an unstable and abusive childhood, he said.

"I do not see any redeeming qualities that merit giving her alternative sentencing," Silver said.

He noted the presentence investigation indicated Boggs has an IQ of 96, that she denied responsibility for her actions, showed little or no remorse and told multiple versions of what happened to her son.

"Telling the truth is an elastic concept" for Boggs, Silver said.

The judge also noted from the presentence investigation a recommendation that Boggs should not be allowed to be alone with any "child, handicapped adult or animal."

Manford said Boggs will have to serve 12 years before she is eligible for parole. The death of a child by parent conviction carries a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, he said.

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