The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Man gets 10 years in prison for burning children’s hands
A man who burned two little girls in an apparent attempt to stop them from sucking their thumbs was ordered Tuesday to serve 10 years in prison.
Demarco Edward Singleton, 20, was sentenced in Fredericksburg Circuit Court to a total of 35 years with all but 10 suspended. He was previously convicted of aggravated malicious wounding, unlawful wounding and two counts of felony child abuse.
According to the evidence presented by prosecutor Travis Bird, Singleton was babysitting his girlfriend’s two girls—ages 2 and 4—when the incident took place on Aug. 30 of last year on Greystone Court in Fredericksburg.
Their mother came home that day and found both girls injured. The 2-year-old was the most seriously injured and had the flesh burned off her hand, Bird said.
She spent about a month at the VCU Medical Center in Richmond for treatment to burns from the wrist to her fingertips. Bird said she has permanent damage and will likely need more surgeries in the future.
“No matter what time you give the defendant, it will pale in comparison to the life sentence of a deformed hand that he gave that beautiful little girl,” Bird said to Judge Gordon Willis.
Singleton gave several different stories to police, but Bird said the evidence showed that he had immersed the girls’ hands in hot water. He told Detective Carlos Reyes that he was trying to get them to stop sucking their thumbs.
Defense attorney Sarah Abernathy unsuccessfully tried to get Singleton into the Youthful Offender Program, which would have provided him more treatment options and less time in prison.
She put on evidence that Singleton was born with HIV and was abused during his own childhood.
“For someone who’s been abused, [putting a child’s hand in hot water] doesn’t seem strange,” Abernathy said.
Singleton admitted that he lied to police and was “irresponsible. But I did not intend to hurt those girls and I do want a chance to see my son,” he told the judge. The girls’ mother was pregnant with Singleton’s child at the time of the incident.
Neither Bird nor the judge found reason to excuse Singleton’s actions. Bird said there are plenty of people who had bad upbringings “that don’t burn a child’s flesh off her hand.”
Willis said, “You chose to look after these children and you chose to torture them. There is absolutely no excuse to have done this.”
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404