In an emotion packed session of Baxter County Circuit Court Wednesday, Jonathan Snow of Mountain Home was sentenced to 41 years in prison on charges stemming from the infliction of severe injuries to his then three-week-old son, Alyas.The jury was out for about an hour before returning with the guilty verdict on first degree battery and endangering the welfare of a minor charges and about the same length of time on reaching sentencing recommendations.A hush fell over the courtroom at one point as the small boy, Alyas Snow, was brought in briefly for jurors to see the results of injuries the boy sustained and the handicaps he will live with for the remainder of his life due to those injuries. The boy was carried into the courtroom by his foster mother, who has cared for him since he was released from Arkansas Children's Hospital in April last year.
The foster mother told the court the small boy could not talk, was unable to walk, could only briefly hold his head up and was fed through a tube. He is required to make visits to various clinics at Arkansas Children's Hospital once or twice a month, according to the foster mother.
During Tuesday's court session, it was estimated that although Alyas was about 20 months old, he was at the level of a six-month-old child developmentally because of substantial injuries to his brain.
The infant was born January 27th last year. The 20-year-old Jonathan Snow is the father and the mother is 31-year-old Alyssia Kirby-Snow. At the time of the baby's birth, the couple lived together in an apartment complex along State Highway 201 North. They have since married, according to statements made in open court by Alyssia Kirby-Snow.
Alyssia Kirby-Snow is also charged in the incident. She faces first degree battery, permitting child abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor. Her trial could take place in about two weeks.
Charges were filed against the couple as the result of an investigation launched in late February last year when the Mountain Home Police Department received a report from Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock that it was believed Alyas Snow had suffered serious abuse.
The hospital reported that the infant, who had been listed in critical condition while in the Little Rock pediatric hospital, had lost two pounds since his birth, suffered a fracture to the right clavicle, had sustained numerous bruises as well as bleeding and swelling of the brain, and the infant was suffering seizures.
In the opinion of the medical team which examined the baby, there is no scenario in which a single drop or fall would result in the infant's extensive, widespread injuries. According to court records, the parents provided nothing but guesses as to how the infant sustained the injuries, but the medical team in Little Rock suspected abuse.
In his closing argument to the jury, Snow's attorney, Andrew Bailey, pointed the finger at Alyssia Kirby-Snow as a player in the injuries her infant son sustained, as well as for the delay in seeking medical attention for his seizures, which Alyssia Kirby-Snow termed "little fits," and other medical problems. In testimony Tuesday, Mountain Home physician Michael Adkins, who became visibly emotional when recounting his contacts with the infant, said when he had first seen Alyas Snow the baby had been what he termed a "well child." He said, however, when Alyssia Kirby-Snow brought the baby to his office slightly more than two weeks later, he was essentially looking at a "lifeless" child. Dr. Adkins said the baby had bruises around the head and showed other abnormal symptoms, such as tremors. Dr. Adkins said he immediately called for an ambulance to get the child to the Baxter Regional Medical Center emergency room. The baby was then airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital after it suffered a seizure in the BRMC emergency room.
Bailey told the jury he did not feel the state had met its burden of proof in showing Jonathan Snow had actually inflicted the injuries on his son. Bailey said his client was a teenager who did not know what to do when his son began exhibiting signs of seizures and other medical problems. Bailey told the jury, "He was doing what he knew to do and he did a bad job in terms of caring for his son, but this does not make him a criminal."
Bailey pointed out that none of the investigators or doctors who had testified could say Jonathan caused the injuries to his son. Bailey kept saying Alyssia Kirby-Snow was the "better candidate" in terms of being the one responsible for the injuries.
In his closing argument, 14th District Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Kerry Chism, said the jury needed to ask why Jonathan Snow had not called for help or taken the child to the hospital. He said taking the child to the doctor or hospital would have shown that "this baby had the heck beat out of it." He said Jonathan Snow knew if this was discovered "it was going to be very bad for him." Chism told the jurors that Jonathan Snow "may have loved the baby, but he loved himself more" and wanted to avoid letting medical authorities see the severe injuries inflicted on the child. Chism said the delay in seeking medical attention made the long-term effects on Alyas worse.
When Bailey concluded his remarks, he asked the jury to "show mercy for this young man."
Circuit Judge John Putman asked Snow if he had anything to say before sentence was pronounced and Snow, choking back tears, said he was "sorry for the grief I have caused." He said he wished he had not delayed seeking medical attention for his infant son. Immediately before being removed from the courtroom and remanded into the custody of the Baxter County Sheriff's Office to await transportation to the state prison system, Snow was surrounded by members of his family to say their good-byes.
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