Monday, 30 May 2011

SBS: Virginia: Baby sitter Larisa Mone Thomas guilty of voluntary manslaughter



A woman who shook an infant boy to death in 2009 was ordered yesterday in Spotsylvania County to serve 10 years in prison.
Larisa Mone Thomas, 29, had previously pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and felony child neglect in connection with the death of 3-month-old Elijah Lynch-Hobbs. Thomas was baby-sitting the child.
The sentence handed down by Judge David Beck was apparently more than Thomas' supporters were prepared for.
Some of them wailed and screamed in disbelief after the decision was announced, and one woman slammed a door and stormed out of the courtroom.
Elijah was injured Sept. 8, 2009, in Thomas' bedroom. Thomas told Detective Twyla Demoranville that she shook the child in an attempt to get him to stop crying.
Elijah was taken off life support the next day at VCU Medical Center in Richmond, but prosecutor Kim Hackbarth said the baby was essentially dead shortly after the abuse.
"It was an intentional act that caused this," Hackbarth said. "That's what makes this unconscionable."
According to the evidence, Vanessa Lynch-Hobbs dropped off Elijah and an older brother at Thomas' home on Windridge Drive in Spotsylvania County about 11:30 a.m. that day.
Thomas and Lynch-Hobbs were friends and had known each other about 15 years. Thomas had been caring for the older child for about a year.
About 30 minutes after Lynch-Hobbs left, police got a 911 call from Thomas, who said the baby was not breathing. During the call, Thomas made such statements as "I shouldn't had did this" and "Come on, Elijah baby, I'm so sorry."
Elijah suffered bleeding in the brain and retinal hemorrhaging, and doctors ruled the death shaken baby syndrome.
Testimony yesterday and court records indicate that Thomas, who is married with four children, was an experienced baby-sitter who had a good reputation in her community.
Defense attorney Stuart Sullivan said Thomas is "one of the most unlikely defendants in the history of this county."
Hackbarth conceded that Thomas had been a good person "99 percent of the time. But in this 1 percent she was horrific and it led to the death of a child."
Judge Beck sentenced Thomas to a total of 20 years, the maximum, but suspended 10 years.
Beck acknowledged that Thomas had been of good character most of her life, but said that people who care for children must be held to a higher standard.
Prior to Beck's decision, Thomas made a statement in which she said she never meant to hurt Elijah and hopes the child's family will one day forgive her.

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