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Mother sentenced to 5 years probation after severe spanking

By CRAIG KAPITAN

Eagle Staff Writer

A Bryan mother was ordered to serve five years of probation Thursday for punishing her 6-year-old son with a spanking that a jury decided became a beating.

Shanetta Richardson was convicted April 9 of recklessly causing injury to a child after authorities found bruises, welts and lacerations across the arms, legs, chest and back of the Sul Ross Elementary School kindergartner.

She had testified that she disciplined her son with a leather belt after the boy lied about ripping his brother’s baptism certificate in half. While Richardson said she didn’t intend to leave marks on the boy, she maintained her punishment method was reasonable.

“The only thing that concerns me is your continued denial that you did anything wrong,” District Judge J.D. Langley told the woman before accepting the plea agreement Thursday.

“What you did was wrong,” he added. “No parent should be able to injure their child and use the excuse of corporal punishment. Punishment doesn’t injure a child. [It] doesn’t leave welts.”

As part of Richardson’s punishment, she could serve a year in state jail if she violates her probation. As a condition of the probation, she must attend anger management counseling and parenting classes. She was also ordered to pay a $500 fine.

Probation was an appropriate punishment, Langley said, adding that he believed Richardson was a good person who genuinely loved her son. But her parental rage must be modified or next time probation might not be an option, he said.

“Children are hard to raise, but in this situation you crossed the line, just like the jury found,” Langley said.

Richardson’s attorney, Kirby Taylor, said the punishment was one that Richardson and her family can live with. The child is doing well in school now and the family life seems to be returning to normal, he said.

“She’s agreed that some things need to be changed,” he said. “It think they will be, for the better.”

During the April trial, CPS supervisor Joan Hazelwood testified that the agency isn’t concerned if parents spank their children. But such punishment has to be administered in a place where there is no potential for injury, such as the buttocks, she said.

Also, she added, any red marks that occur as a result of the spanking should fade within several hours.

Assistant District Attorney Jarvis Parsons agreed Thursday that a combination of probation, anger management classes and parenting classes should constitute a fair punishment for Richardson.

“Hopefully ... we can help her realize what she did was wrong, and help protect a little boy,” he said.

• Craig Kapitan’s e-mail address is ckapitan@theeagle.com.

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