A former Berkeley County woman was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and a suspended one- to three-year prison sentence
Thursday after pleading guilty to felony child neglect resulting in bodily injury.
Amber R. Gunnoe, 23, who was indicted by a Berkeley County grand jury in February, was accused of failing to seek immediate medical attention for her 16-month-old son, who suffered a fractured leg and a broken bone in his arm on March 21, 2010, at Gunnoe's former residence in Berkeley County.
The child suffered the broken leg while under the care of Gunnoe's former boyfriend, 23-year-old Evan Michael Meadows, of Martinsburg, and it took Gunnoe about one week to take the child in for an X-ray. Gunnoe also waited three to four weeks before having a full skeletal scan performed on the child, despite being told to by a doctor.
"I left my son in the care of my ex-boyfriend. At the time I did have a drug addiction," Gunnoe told the court prior to sentencing. "I did know the child was injured. I didn't know that it was from abuse. ... I did taken him to the hospital the day after, but for the full skeletal I was late for that."
Meadows pleaded guilty
Jan. 3 to one count of child abuse resulting in injury. He was sentenced to one to five years in prison, but the sentence was suspended in favor of five years of probation as part of a plea agreement.
Gunnoe also was ordered to register as a child abuser with the state's child abuse registry for 10 years.
A conviction for child neglect resulting in bodily injury carries maximum potential sentence of one to three years in prison, or up to a year in jail at the court's discretion.
During Thursday's hearing, Groh asked Jones how a sentence of time already served instead of probation would be beneficial to anyone other than Gunnoe,
who had been incarcerated for about two months since her indictment.
"I think she's demonstrated she is not a good candidate for probation,"
Gunnoe previously failed two separate drug tests
in October 2010, testing positive for opiates, which resulted in a previous plea agreement being rejected by the court. She was placed on pre-trial supervised release, but failed to show up for several meetings with her probation officer and later went missing.
Jones said Gunnoe was missing for about four months,
vanishing sometime in January before turning up again in April. While she was missing, she failed to appear for her arraignment on the child neglect charge following her indictment in February.
"She's a heroin addict. ... If she wants to kill herself then that's up to her," Jones said. "The only purpose of probation would be to save her life."
Her attorney, Stephanie Scales-Sherrin, told the court that she tended to agree that if Gunnoe were sentenced to a long period of probation, she might be at risk for a future violation. However, she noted that Gunnoe is now sober because of her incarceration and, upon release, she would be living with her new fiance, who she said lives a sober lifestyle and wouldn't allow Gunnoe to relapse.
She also said that Gunnoe already has had two children, and she could have more children in the future. Due to the court's concerns, Groh decided to sentence Gunnoe to prison, but suspended the sentence in favor of probation.
By sentencing Gunnoe to probation, Groh said she wanted to ensure there was a measures in place to deter Gunnoe from committing any future crimes and to ensure there was a safeguard in place if she does have additional children.
"You need to shake these demons," Groh said.