Woman gets probation in child neglect case

December 13, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Lanish A. Bailey
Lanish A. Bailey

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A 25-year-old woman charged after her 2-year-old daughter was found shoeless and without a coat on a cold, wet Martinsburg street in October 2008 was placed on five years of probation on Monday.

Lanish A. Bailey’s plea of no contest to one felony count of child neglect creating substantial risk of serious bodily injury was accepted by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III, who described her actions as “despicable,” reciting the definition of the word aloud in court.

“I’m not so sure you’re deserving of probation,” Silver told Bailey, who became emotional after Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely outlined the state’s evidence against her in a plea and sentencing hearing.

As part of a binding plea agreement to resolve the case, Bailey can avoid serving a one- to five-year prison sentence that comes with the conviction, if she complies with the terms of probation. She must register with the child-abuse registry for 10 years as the offending parent, complete 100 hours of community service and pay court costs within two years.

Bailey’s daughter was found at about 3 a.m. Oct. 28, 2008, in the 300 block of South Water Street, police have said. The girl was briefly exposed to the elements and was not injured, police have said. It was about 40 degrees at the time, officials said. A resident told police that after hearing a loud radio and a woman screaming outside, they looked out the window and saw a child standing next to a vehicle and then running after the vehicle as it departed, according to court records. The child was found in the road and a child safety seat also was found near the residence, according to court records.

Games-Neely told the judge Monday that state’s evidence would show Bailey had no idea where the child was when police responded to investigate.

The victim in the case and her older sister — now ages 4 and 6 — are in the custody of relatives who were approved by the Department of Health and Human Resources, and Bailey no longer has parental rights to her children, according to Games-Neely.

“We’re grateful that neither child was physically harmed,” said Games-Neely, who noted that the situation could have resulted in a much more serious outcome.

Martinsburg Police Detective George Swartwood told the court Monday that he was in agreement with the plea deal because the children no longer are in Bailey’s custody and the resolution of the case resulted in a felony conviction. Swartwood also told the court that the plea deal would eliminate any further interruption in the lives of the children.

The safety and welfare of the children are “paramount” to the police department, Swartwood said.

Before pronouncing her sentence, Silver said a 23rd Judicial Circuit probation officer felt that probation would offer Bailey some structure in her life for the first time and believed she would have a hard time adjusting to adult life after a term of incarceration.

Bailey, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, also told the court that she was treated for anxiety.

When given one last chance to withdraw her plea, Bailey hesitated before signing the required no-contest plea form and spoke with her attorney Nicholas Colvin, who appeared to be reviewing her options.

In August 2010, Bailey declined to accept a similar plea offer.

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