Martinsburg man found guilty of child abuse, neglect

August 27, 2010

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A Martinsburg man accused of fracturing his 5-month-old daughter's skull in October 2008 was found guilty Friday by a Berkeley County Circuit Court jury of abuse and neglect.

Alfonso F. Sanchez, 28, was convicted of one count of child abuse causing serious bodily injury and one count of child neglect creating a substantial risk of bodily injury, Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory K. Jones said.

Sanchez, who is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 23, faces a maximum sentence of two to 10 years in prison for the child abuse conviction and one to five years in prison for the child neglect conviction, Jones said in a news release.

After the trial, Sanchez was taken to Eastern Regional Jail, Jones said.

The jury deliberated for several hours Thursday afternoon, then resumed Friday morning and reached a verdict at about 11:30 a.m., Jones said.


After the verdict was announced, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh denied a request that Sanchez be allowed to remain on bail until sentencing.

Jones, who acknowledged the state had a "tough" case to prosecute, credited the investigative work of Martinsburg Police Lt. George Swartwood, who was assisted in the investigation by Cpl. Scott Doyle.

Police have said Sanchez knocked over a chair in which his daughter was sitting and she struck her head.

The girl appears to have recovered from the injury, according to Jones, but her attending physician told police she could be at risk for seizures later in life.

In February, Groh rejected a plea agreement that would have allowed Sanchez to plead guilty under Alford circumstances to misdemeanor counts of domestic battery and contributing to the neglect of a child, court records show.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the state has sufficient evidence to gain a conviction.

Consecutive one-year jail sentences would have been suspended and Sanchez would have been placed on five years of probation, according to court records.

The felony counts in a February 2009 indictment would have been dismissed, according to court records.

After reviewing a pre-plea report and considering additional information, Groh concluded the plea agreement was "not consistent with the public interest in the fair administration of justice," according to court records.

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