Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 25, 2013

Grandmother gets 12 times max sentence for abuse

Associated Press

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — A Stafford County grandmother has been ordered to serve 12 times the maximum sentence for allegedly abusing four children.

Judge J. Howe Brown on Tuesday sentenced Valleshia Margaret Griffin, 52, to 16 years in prison with all but six years suspended. Griffin admitted she held the children’s hands over a stove as punishment for misbehavior while taking care of them on Dec. 2. The children did not receive medical treatment for three days.

Two of the four children who were injured were her biological grandchildren. The children were siblings between the ages of 5 and 9.

The Free Lance-Star reported that when Griffin was acquitted in June of the four most serious charges against her, she leapt out of her wheelchair in Stafford County Circuit Court and shouted thanks to Jesus.

But on Tuesday, she cried and wailed loudly after the sentence was read. She already has served nine months and likely would have been released Tuesday had Brown followed the guidelines, which called for a maximum penalty of six months.

The four charges that the jury cleared Griffin of in June included aggravated malicious wounding, which carries a minimum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The jury was unable to decide on the child cruelty charges, and Griffin would have gotten a new trial on those charges had she not pleaded guilty immediately after the verdict.

Two of the children suffered third-degree burns. Griffin’s attorney, Jeff Grimstead, claimed the children’s mother, Josetta Hawkins, delayed getting the children medical treatment because she was afraid of having them taken from her again.

Hawkins is charged with child cruelty and neglect. Her trial is scheduled for Oct. 2.