Man pleads guilty to injuring child

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By John Barnhart

A Bedford County man pleaded guilty, Tuesday in Bedford County Circuit Court, to injuring a 17-month-old child.

Robert Lewis Evans, 24, of Hardy pleaded guilty to child abuse and malicious wounding.

On Nov. 7, 2007, Evans and his girlfriend brought the child to Community Hospital in Roanoke. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said that they told the hospital that they found the child in his crib bleeding from the nose and ear.

The child was listless and woozy. Both denied knowing what happened. An examination revealed two small fractures in the side of the child’s skull and bruising to both the outside and the inside of the ear. According to Nance, medical experts say that the bruising is inconsistent with a fall.

Nance said that Evans initially denied doing anything to the child but the next day, during an interview with a Sheriff’s Office investigator, changed his story several times. He initially told the investigator that he had gotten up to feed the child and that the child had slipped out of his hands. Then, he said the child had hit his head on the play pen. Finally, Nance said, Evans admitted to punching the child three times with a closed fist. This was done to keep him quiet.

After Evans pleaded guilty, Nance requested a presentence report and told Judge James Updike that he would request active prison time within the sentencing guidelines. Evans is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 1 and is currently free on bond.

Nance said that Evans has some misdemeanor convictions, but no prior felony record. He expects the sentencing guidelines to show a sentence of between two and six years. The maximum sentence that the charges, to which Evans pleaded guilty, is 30 years.

According to W. Edward Cooley, Evans’ defense attorney, Evans maintains that his confession was not truthful and he doesn’t know why he made it. However, the fact that the taped confession exists was the main reason for his guilty plea.

“We felt the choice of a jury trial was not very good,” Cooley said.

If a jury finds a defendant guilty, it has the option of imposing the maximum sentence that the charges allow during the sentencing phase.