Update: Matthew Roach Convicted of Lesser Charge
Update: 6:30 p.m.:
The jury recommended Roach serve eight months on the assault and battery charge. The judge suspended one month, and gave credit for time served. Roach is expected to not have to serve any more time in jail. He will face a $2,500 fine.
During Thursday's sentencing phase, the commonwealth called Dorothy Burks to the stand, that's Savanna Burks' mother.
She tearfully told the jury about how the injured child will have to undergo surgery, and still has trouble crawling.
She also recounted how scared Savanna's two children seemed to be around Roach.
The defense then called Roach's sister to the stand, who told the court what a loving uncle Roach is to her four children.
The commonwealth then brought up numerous things about Roach that his sister was not aware of, things like his relationship with Burks, his drinking, and his foul language on Twitter. Then Roach himself took the stand, saying how horrible his five months in jail have been, and how sorry he is to hear about the child's injuries. He also said he hopes to once again attend Liberty University some day.
The prosecution then blasted Roach for violating an honor code he signed when he went to LU, and pointed out that Roach is yet to report any of his violations.
Update: 5:15 p.m.:
A jury has found Matthew Roach guilty of assault and battery. The jury chose a lesser charge to convict him on. Roach was originally charged with malicious wounding for abusing his girlfriend's 9-month-old daughter.
Update: 2:00 p.m.:
The defense has rested in the child abuse case of Matthew Roach. In Thursday's developments, a child cruelty charge has been dropped. The defense argued that the commonwealth did not prove that Roach had custody or was the caretaker of the child as the charge requires. Roach does still face a malicious wounding charge.
The case is expected to wrap up Thursday.
Amherst Co., VA - Amherst Police say Matthew Roach seriously abused a 9- month-old baby. Wednesday, he went on trial for felony child neglect or abuse.
The baby's mother, Savanna Burks, is also charged.
Roach appeared in court looking much different from his mug shot. With a short haircut and dressed in a suit and tie, he sat quietly next to his attorney Philip Baker.
The prosecution called a slew of witnesses.
Two doctors who treated the then 9-month-old back on May 7 took the stand.
A radiologist testified the child's X rays showed a history of prior injuries that had already healed, as well as newer injuries to her right elbow and hip.
Then, an orthopedic surgeon testified that he believes the infant's injuries were not accidental -- but deliberate. When those doctors treated her, she was already under the care of Child Services.
An in-home child care provider and a friend of Savanna Burks were also called to the stand. Both women had taken care of Burks' children around the time of this alleged incident. They both described the infant as being in pain and not functioning like a normal 9-month-old. Both say the child had trouble crawling, and say she even dragged her right leg behind her at times.
Another noteworthy testimony was that of Burks' mother, as she tearfully described her grandchildren's reaction to being around Matthew Roach.
Testimony took a turn in a different direction when Burks' sister, Brittany Burks-Tyree, took the stand. That's when the prosecution introduced a collection of tweets from Roach's twitter account, dating back to the beginning of this year.
Tyree had saved the tweets right after the May 7 incident. She was asked to read each tweet out loud, all of which contained profanity, derogatory comments about women, and statements about how much he disliked children.
Roach's attorney, Phillip Baker, objected to the introduction of the evidence, but Judge Gamble allowed it.