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Judge denies new trial in burned toddler case
Day care worker serving eight-year prison sentence
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A judge denied a new trial for the worker convicted in January of scalding a 16-month-old boy at a Clermont day care.

Eddye Pittmon, of Talmo, was found guilty of battery and first-degree child cruelty after Damon Gaddis suffered severe burns in June 2014 at Discovering Basics day care.

Superior Court Judge Jason Deal sentenced Pittmon to eight years in prison.

Attorneys Dawn Seibert and Walker Rick represented Pittmon, initially filing a motion for new trial claiming ineffective trial counsel.

The attorneys claimed trial attorney Troy Millikan failed to request a jury instruction for a lesser-included offense, a crime that could be proven by the same facts but carries a lighter sentence.

Seibert wrote in the motion Millikan failed to request second-degree child cruelty as a lesser-included offense for first-degree child cruelty. First-degree cruelty is maliciously causing pain while the second-degree charge is considered criminal negligence.

“Failure to seek a jury instruction on a lesser-included offense that is supported by the evidence, absent a legitimate strategic rationale, constitutes deficient performance,” according to the motion.

The motion also claims this could not be a harmless error because the jury convicted Pittmon on the lesser-included offense of battery in place of aggravated battery.

Millikan was the sole witness examined on the stand, who testified about his 48 years of law experience and his trial strategy.

Millikan’s strategy, as described by opposing counsel, was that Pittmon had no malice against the child and brought witnesses that “testified as to her sterling character, that she would never hurt a child,” Millikan said.

The owner, Minnie Sue Dupree, and site director, Tara Miller, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement officer in February and were sentenced to 12 months of probation.

Deal heard arguments from Seibert, Rick and Assistant District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva before making his decision. He signed an order to dismiss her new trial motion Tuesday afternoon.

Rick declined to comment following the decision.

 

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