A 19-year-old woman who hog-tied her toddler and left him on the floorboard of her car for hours is going to prison for eight years.
Hall County Magistrate Court Chief Judge Margaret Gregory on Wednesday accepted a plea deal on behalf of Grace An that was worked out by the state and her attorney, but frankly told the defendant that given the cruelty toward her own child she would have to serve prison time.
Under the terms of the agreement, Gregory sentenced An to 20 years, with eight years of that to be served as prison time and the final years 12 years on probation. As part of her sentence, An must undergo clinical and mental evaluation and substance-abuse treatment. She’s also required to do 20 hours of community service and was slapped with a $2,000 fine.
Assistant District Attorney Alicia Taylor said the state agreed to negotiate a plea agreement with defense attorney Phil Pilgrim because An did not have any prior felonies. An pleaded guilty to cruelty to a child in the first and second degrees, reckless conduct and false imprisonment. She declined to say anything when the judge gave her an opportunity to speak.
Pilgrim said his client is taking full responsibility for her actions, but also pointed at her young age and issues she’s been dealing with.
“They’re not excuses for anything, but it might help explain how she got to this point,” Pilgrim said. “She’s ready to enlist the resources that she’ll have at her disposal and hopefully change her life.”
In November 2015, An called a locksmith after she reported having locked her car with the keys inside in the area of Ahaluna Drive in Gainesville.
After gaining entry into the car, the locksmith heard the cries of a child who had his mouth, hands and feet tied with tape and cellophane. Taylor indicated the mother tied the boy and taped his mouth because he would not stop crying.
“This is troubling to the court …,” Gregory said in accepting the plea agreement and handing out the sentence. “Part of this sentence is going to require you to abide by a lot of rules and regulations, so I’m hoping that can happen for you. You’re still very young. I’m not saying all hope is lost for you. It is not.”
The Division of Family and Children Services took custody of An’s son, Josiah, after her arrest, and since then the 2 1/2-year old has been adopted by Phil and Michelle DiDomenico of Flowery Branch. The couple were in the courtroom when An was sentenced.
“He’s a happy little boy, but he definitely still has a lot to overcome,” Michelle said.
The couple said the boy was 20 pounds and undernourished. They said An surrendered her maternal rights, and the court said An is allowed to have no contact with her son after she gets out of prison.