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Woman agrees to testify against boyfriend in child-abuse case

April 04, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Jesse A. Lafferty
Jesse A. Lafferty

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Berkeley County woman will plead guilty to two felony counts of child neglect and will testify against her co-defendant in a case involving the abuse of the man’s two children last year, under an agreement discussed during a hearing Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Karen S. Boback, 44, and her boyfriend, Jesse A. Lafferty, 33, both of 292 Labonte Drive, were indicted in February on felony charges of child abuse causing serious bodily injury, gross child neglect creating substantial risk of bodily injury or death, and conspiracy.

Under a plea agreement discussed before Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes, Boback, who faced eight felony charges, will plead guilty to two felony counts of gross child neglect, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neeley said.

“She’s going to turn state’s evidence against him,” Games-Neeley said after the hearing.

A presentence report and plea agreement for Boback are scheduled for May 23. She likely will be sentenced that day, court officials said.

Prosecutors are considering concurrent one- to five-year prison sentences for Boback.

Lafferty is scheduled for trial before Wilkes on April 12, but court officials said the trial likely will be continued, pending the outcome of Boback’s hearing.

According to court records, the alleged abuse against the children occurred between January and August 2010, the month Boback and Lafferty were arrested. The children, ages 3 and 5 at the time, are Lafferty’s biological children.

According to the indictment, Boback told police at the time of the arrests that Lafferty withheld food from the children for more than 24 hours at a time, made them take cold showers, spanked them with a belt and made them spend nights on a cold, concrete floor in the basement.

She told investigators that Lafferty wouldn’t feed his children for two to three days out of every seven and that they spent more than half of their time in the basement with only a small carpet and a couple of blankets, court records show.

Police found a baby monitor near the blankets and a child’s portable toilet in the basement, records show. The refrigerator was padlocked and a deadbolt was found on the food pantry, according to records.

The child’s biological mother lives out of state and is not being charged in the case, records show.

The children were taken from the home by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, according to records.

Boback and Lafferty were being held on $150,000 bonds.

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