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Grandmother sentenced for abusing granddaughter

Date published: 2/24/2011

By PORTSIA SMITH

A Louisa County grandmother will serve seven years in prison for abusing her 8-year-old granddaughter.

Laura Jean Jewell, 49, was sentenced to 30 years in prison with all but seven years suspended for malicious wounding and child neglect of a minor.

Louisa Circuit Judge Timothy K. Sanner also ruled that Jewell cannot have contact with her grandchildren or have any custodial responsibilities for any child for the next 30 years.

The charges came to light in July 2008 after the girl jumped 15 feet from a balcony at the home she shared with her grandparents in the gated community of Blue Ridge Shores. She ran to a neighbor’s house and banged on the door at 3 a.m.

The neighbor, who called 911, said the girl was bleeding, was missing hair and had a broken foot. After being treated at a Charlottesville hospital, the girl was turned over to Social Services.

Jewell entered Alford pleas, which means that while she did not admit guilt, she acknowledged there was sufficient evidence to convict her.

At the sentencing hearing yesterday, Jewell said that she was not the one who harmed the child and that she was guilty only of neglect for not seeking medical attention.

Arguing for the judge to exceed the sentencing guidelines, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire compared the child victim to the victims of 9/11 when he said, “You remember those people who jumped from the twin towers on 9/11 to a certain death instead of facing the fiery inferno from behind. This child made the same decision on July 8, 2008, when she chose to jump from 15 feet to a certain injury and possible death to avoid the brutality of Jewell.”

Jewell’s husband and the girl’s stepgrandfather, Ronald Wayne Jewell, was convicted in December of similar charges. He was sentenced to five years with all but five months suspended. He was released for time served and placed on supervised probation.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419

Email: psmith@fredericksburg.com

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