Monday, August 22, 2011

Jessica Beagley Case Goes To The Jury; Acquittal More Likely Thanks To August 19th Testimony By OCS Supervisor Stating No Abuse Occurred

Update August 23rd: Jury finds Jessica Beagley guilty of one count misdemeanor child abuse; see updated post HERE.

NOTE: All posts on this case available HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.

On August 22nd, 2011, after closing arguments by both the prosecution and defense, the misdemeanor child abuse case of Anchorage Hot Sauce Mom Jessica Beagley was handed over to the three-man, three-woman jury. While a quick verdict is possible, it is unlikely that a verdict will be rendered before Tuesday August 23rd at the earliest. The prospect of Beagley's acquittal was seriously boosted on Friday August 19th when a supervisor for the Office of Children's Services (OCS) testified that there were no signs of child abuse.

In her closing argument, prosecutor Cynthia Franklin pushed the case for conviction by playing the Dr. Phil card. She continues to insist that Jessica Beagley was more interested in getting air time on Dr. Phil than in helping her troubled son. To her credit, Franklin deservedly ripped Dr. Phil a new asshole, saying "Nobody's saying Dr. Phil's innocent in this. He has his operation, his machine. He grinds people up and spits them out. That's what he does for a living." But Franklin openly admitted that her primary reason for targeting Beagley was because she got on national T.V.

In his closing argument, Beagley's lawyer William Ingalson denied that his client simply wanted to be on T.V. He suggested that while Beagley might have chosen a poor method of discipline, what she did was not a crime. He noted that it's not a criminal offense to use a punishment that doesn't work, and asked the jury to base their verdict upon facts rather than emotion. He also reminded jurors that the Office of Children's Services investigated and found no signs of abuse.

This is the line Ingaldson has taken throughout the trial; on Day Two (Aug. 17th), Ingaldson suggested that for the punishment to constitute a crime, prosecutors would have to prove it was done cruelly, gratuitously and with intent to inflict pain. His contention was apparently echoed by Virginia Moring, a supervisor with the Office of Children's Services, during testimony on Day Four (Aug. 19). Moring, who supervises five other child welfare workers, said there were no signs of maltreatment -- which the office defines as neglect, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence or drug use -- during visits to Beagley's home and interviews with her children. Investigators interviewed Beagley and her husband Gary, their children, as well as their coworkers and officials at the kids' school. The kids told OCS they felt safe.

In addition, psychologist Stephen Mailloux testified on August 19th that he evaluated the boy on February 24th and diagnosed him with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder. Dr. Mailloux also said children with the disorder are uncontrollable and don't show empathy. Licensed therapist Chantal Cohen also testified, saying she believes the emotional disorder resulted from trauma sustained before the Beagleys adopted the boy.

Analysis: If Jessica Beagley is acquitted, the turning point can be traced to Virginia Moring's testimony on August 19th. If a supervisor for the Office of Children's Services says no abuse occurred, that's likely to be quite persuasive. Combined with the testimony by the pyschologist and the therapist, this will paint a picture in the minds of the jurors of a mother under siege, desperately looking for ways to raise an uncontrollable child, rather than a criminal with malevolent intent. An acquittal is much more likely now than it was last week.

Furthermore, public opinion, as expressed in comments to this ADN story, is now shifting more markedly in favor of Jessica Beagley.

1 comment:

  1. What - you think Jessica Beagley's intention was anything other than to inflict pain (in addition to fear and humiliation)? She in not "a mother under siege". She exploited her own cruelty for fame. Her sick home video is a bizarre type of pornography. When Christ talked about millstones for those who harm little children, he was thinking about people like Jessica Beagley, and people like you, "Alaska Pride" blogger, who act as their accomplices by discounting their crimes.