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Hagerstown man gets 10 years for assault on blind infant

September 19, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Clyde Eugene Gatrell III
Clyde Eugene Gatrell III

HAGERSTOWN — A Hagerstown man convicted this summer of assaulting a blind infant was sentenced Monday in Washington County Circuit Court to 10 years in state prison.

Clyde Eugene Gatrell III, 21, formerly of 1056-C Noland Drive, was found guilty of second-degree child abuse and two counts of second-degree assault following a June 30 bench trial before Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, who announced his verdict July 19.

On Monday, Beachley sentenced Gatrell to 19 years in prison, but suspended nine years.

“This was an offense against an incredibly vulnerable individual,” Washington County Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Wilson told Beachley, referring to the victim, Brayden Embly. Wilson asked the judge to impose a sentence above the six years recommended in a presentence investigation.

“There’s no question the child was subjected to some rough handling. My client has always denied doing that,” Assistant Public Defender Jerome Joyce told Beachley.

He said Gatrell would be “grossly victimized” in state prison and asked the judge to impose a sentence that could be served at the Washington County Detention Center.

Gatrell was found not guilty on other counts, including first-degree child abuse, first-degree assault and contributing to the condition of a child, according to court records.

Before the verdict, Beachley granted a defense motion for judgment of acquittal on two counts of first-degree child abuse.

A Washington County grand jury indicted Gatrell in December on allegations that he caused injuries to Brayden Embly on or before Sept. 20, 2010, court records said. Embly was 8 months old at the time.

Beachley found Gatrell guilty of causing fractures to the boy’s legs and burns to his lips and abdomen in separate incidents. The burns were caused by an overheated baby bottle, Beachley said in July.

The judge said in July that he believed Gatrell became frustrated dealing with a crying infant and prepared a bottle which he knew, or should have known, was too hot.

The judge found there was not enough evidence to convict Gatrell of causing fractures to the baby’s arms, because medical testimony at the trial indicated those injuries could have occurred while the child was not in Gatrell’s care.

Gatrell had been staying at the home of Brayden’s mother, Jennifer Embly, for about six weeks before the injuries were discovered.

Grandmother Kim Selfridge told the judge that Brayden is now “a thriving little boy.” At the time he was injured, however, he weighed just 10 pounds and “didn’t have the strength to do anything.”

Gatrell has been in the Washington County Detention Center for more than nine months since his arrest, Joyce said.

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