After about four and a half hours of deliberation, a Baxter County Circuit Court jury returned a guilty verdict Thursday on two of three charges in the trial against Alyssia Kirby-Snow of Mountain Home. Kirby-Snow was found guilty of permitting child abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor after her son, Alyas, was found to have serious injuries. Kirby-Snow was found not guilty of a third charge, battery in the first degree.
Kirby-Snow received a 26-year prison sentence on the two charges, 20 for permitting child abuse and six for endangering the welfare of a minor, the maximum allowed. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $13,000.
Before sentencing was formally imposed, Judge Gordon Webb asked Kirby-Snow if she had anything to say. Choking back tears, she said, "Everyone blames me for not taking Alyas to the hospital sooner. If I could go back and change things, I would."
At the conclusion of the state's case, Ben Gibson of Yellville, who represents Alyssia Kirby-Snow, moved for a directed verdict of acquittal, but Judge Gordon Webb denied the motion which paved the way for the case to go to the jury.
In closing arguments Gibson pointed the finger of blame more or less directly at, her now husband, Jonathan Snow, referring to him as a "sociopath." He told the jury Alyssia Kirby-Snow had trusted Jonathan Snow with the care of the infant at times and that she had "trusted the wrong person."
He said if there is any other reasonable explanation for what happened to the baby then the jury had the obligation to not convict her.
Fourteenth Judicial District Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kerry Chism countered saying a mother is supposed to take up for her child and in this case it wasn't done.
Kirby-Snow has maintained her innocence.
In his opening statement to the jury, Chism pointed out that, by their own admission, Jonathan Snow and Alyssia Kirby-Snow were the only two people who cared for the baby and that whatever happened to the infant to bring it to the brink of death in a fairly short period of time could be laid at the doorstep of both parents.
Alyas was born to the 31-year-old Kirby-Snow and 20-year-old Jonathan Snow. At the time of the child's birth in late January 2016, the couple lived together in an apartment complex along State Highway 201 North. They were later married.
Jonathan Snow was found guilty by a Circuit Court Jury in mid-October last year and sentenced to 41 years in prison in connection with the alleged child abuse. He has filed notice he intends to appeal the conviction. He is currently serving his time in the Delta Regional Unit of the state prison system in Dermott.
The staff at Arkansas Children's Hospital said the infant -- who had been listed in critical conditions while in the Little Rock pediatric hospital -- had lost two pounds since birth, suffered a fracture to the right clavicle, had sustained numerous bruises as well as bleeding and swelling of the brain, and he was suffering seizures. In the opinion of the ACH medical staff, there was no scenario in which a single drop or fall would have resulted in the extensive, widespread injuries the infant suffered.
Several people testified during Wednesday's session, including Dr. Michael Adkins. The physician's testimony was much the same as it was during the Jonathan Snow trial. Dr. Adkins said he had seen Alyas on February 4th, not long after the infant was born. He told the court when he saw the baby on that occasion, he was looking at a "well child." The first visit was in marked contrast to one on February 22nd when Kirby-Snow brought the infant back to Dr. Adkins. The physician said he saw a very sick baby who was having seizures and had extensive bruising on his body. Dr. Adkins said he did not get a good answer from Kirby-Snow as to what had happened to cause the bruising. He said he immediately called for an ambulance and had the baby taken to Baxter Regional Medical Center. Alyas Snow was airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock after he had a seizure in the BRMC emergency room.
Dr. Adkins said the baby he saw on the February 22nd visit was essentially lifeless. He said there was a "huge difference" between the two February visits. He said only a quick glance at the child convinced him that "the baby was in real trouble." He said in addition to calling an ambulance, he also made a call to the Department of Human Services to report what he had seen.
Chism asked Dr. Adkins if he had any intention of giving the baby back to Alyssia Snow after seeing the baby's condition, and he said he did not.
The jury saw lengthy videos taken by Jonathan Snow with his cellphone as he sat up with Alyas in the early morning hours of February 22nd. Jonathan Snow carries on a monologue with himself regarding the baby's health problems and what might be causing those problems. He is seen frequently taking the baby's temperature, patting the infant's stomach and rubbing his head. The baby has several seizures, which Alyssia Kirby Snow had called "little fits" during the time Jonathan Snow is videotaping him. The infant makes a strange wheezing-like sound, and there is obvious uncontrolled shaking of his arms.
At one point, Jonathan Snow is heard to exclaim he was "freaking out" and did not know what to do.
Alyssia Snow is not seen on the videos. Jonathan Snow says at one point he had attempted to wake her up to come and check the baby, but she was "passed out."
The issue of whether the baby's injuries were inflicted by Jonathan Snow, Alyssia Kirby-Snow or both was argued back and forth throughout the trial. Investigators who worked the case expressed the feeling it was likely both the parents had been responsible. Investigators also testified Jonathan Snow and Alyssia Kirby-Snow said they were the only ones to care for and to be alone with the baby since its birth. Chism told the jury at one point since the couple had admitted they were the only ones to have cared for the baby, whatever happened to the infant to bring it to the brink of death could be laid at the doorstep of both parents.
Alyssia Kirby-Snow has 30 days to appeal.
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