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Convicted of severely abusing her daughter, mother gets eight years in jail

POSTED: February 10, 2008 5:05 a.m.
ROBIN MICHENER NATHAN /The Times

Janet Yearwood enters Judge Andrew Fuller's courtroom before being sentenced to 20 years, eight to be served in prison, for beating her 2-year-old daughter.

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A young Gainesville mother received eight years in prison Tuesday for severely abusing her 2-year-old daughter.

Janet Yearwood, 24, dabbed at tears after Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller sentenced her to the maximum 20 years, eight years in confinement and the rest on probation, for aggravated battery.

"A 2-year-old child is completely helpless, completely unable to fend off attacks from an adult," Fuller told Yearwood prior to imposing the sentence.

A jury convicted Yearwood on Jan. 18, finding her guilty of causing numerous bruises and whip marks all over the girl’s body June 2006 in her Hidden Cove apartment. She was acquitted of causing a life-threatening skull fracture.

The girl, now 4, has fully recovered and is in the permanent custody of Yearwood’s mother, who lives out of state. Yearwood’s mother was at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing but did not address the court.

The prison sentence was three years more than Yearwood was offered by prosecutors prior to the trial. She rejected a 25-year sentence with five to serve in prison, Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance told Fuller.

"I think a harsher sentence would be appropriate, considering she hasn’t taken responsibility for what she has done," Vance said. "This is not a case where a mother admitted, ‘I lost control.’ This is a case where the mother minimized her involvement."

Yearwood did not speak during the hourlong hearing. She testified at trial that she struck the girl lightly with a twig. Prosecutors showed the jury photographs of the girl with bruises to the face, back and backside, and about 15 whip marks to the thighs.

Under the sentence, Yearwood must not contact the child, must pay a fine of $5,000 and must undergo psychological counseling after her release.



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