On March 4th, 2015, Terry Church, 32, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia was sentenced for malicious wounding and child endangerment. On December 10th, 2014 Church pled guilty to both charges in Wise Circuit Court. Church was sentenced to 30 years in prison with 19 years suspended on the condition that he complete 10 years of active supervised probation upon his release from incarceration.

            In June of 2014, Church was babysitting his girlfriend’s nephew. At some point during the morning hours, the child awoke with a soiled diaper. The child was crying and Church became angry and then violently shook the baby and threw him against a concrete wall or struck the child on the side of the head. The child sustained major injuries to his head including a severely fractured skull. However, Church did not seek medical care for the child. He proceeded to send photographs of the child covered in vomit. Church then traveled over Southwest Virginia with the child in the backseat of his car. Church went to his own doctor and obtained his prescription oxycodone and was even stopped for speeding, and he never sought help for the child. Finally, the child’s aunt arrived home and immediately took the child to the hospital. The child was flown to the children’s hospital in Knoxville, TN. The child suffered severe trauma which will cause life-long problems.

            During the hearing, Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Arrington argued to the Court that this was one of the worst crimes he had seen during his tenure. Arrington showed pictures of the injuries to the child and explained to the Court the significance of the injuries. The prosecution also had one of the child’s doctors present who testified that the injuries to the child were undoubtedly caused by violent shaking and receiving a significant blow to the head. Further, the doctor explained, to the Court, the long term effect of the injuries to the child.

            The Court ultimately sentenced Church to 30 years in a Virginia Prison with 19 years of that sentence being suspended on the condition the Defendant successfully complete 10 years of active supervised probation.

When asked to comment, Arrington stated that “this was one of the saddest cases he has prosecuted and that he was pleased with the Courts sentence.” Arrington went on to commend the hard work of the Norton Police Department and the Virginia State Police.


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