When 19-year-old Chelsie Grant of Lower Milford was sentenced in October for abusing her 6-month-old son by choking him and twisting his arms and legs, her punishment of 1-2 years in prison and 18 years' probation sparked outrage on Patch.com and elsewhere.
On Tuesday, Lehigh County Judge James T. Anthony revised Grant's sentence upwards to 3-6 years in prison and 14 years' probation after the prosecuting attorney made a case that he should reconsider.
"It is one of the most serious cases of child abuse Lehigh County has ever seen," Deputy District Attorney Anna-Kristie Morffi Marks told Anthony. Tuesday's hearing was in response to Marks' post-sentence motion to reconsider the sentence.
Grant was charged in February and later pleaded guilty to a single count of felony aggravated assault after the DA's office dropped a charge of attempted homicide.
According to the criminal complaint, Grant brought her son to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest on Jan. 12, claiming his father had abused the baby. Emergency room doctors confirmed the boy had several injuries, including a right elbow dislocation and fractures of both arms and legs.
Grant later confessed to abusing her son, including breaking his arms, choking him and shoving objects in his mouth.
While she was in jail, Grant had a second baby and that baby and the son she victimized are being raised by their paternal grandmother.
In sentencing Grant in October, Anthony ignored a pre-sentence recommendation that she receive 10 to 20 years in state prison. Her attorney, Carol Marciano, had argued that Grant was an overwhelmed teen mom with mental health problems and a low IQ.
In giving her the lighter sentence, Anthony cited such mitigating circumstances as her guilty plea, low intelligence, mental health problems and remorse.
At Tuesday's hearing, Marks challenged the use of several of the mitigating circumstances, pointing out that the abuse was over a period of months, not an isolated incident. "I think she's probably showing remorse to get some kind of sympathy of the court," Marks said.
As for Grant being overwhelmed, Marks said people had offered to help Grant with the children before her arrest and she turned them down.
Anthony said his initial sentence was meant to leave open the possibility that sometime in the future Grant's children might want to know their mother and a 10-20 year sentence would have precluded that.
He made it clear that he finds what she did abhorrent. "No stable person would ever do this to his or her child," Anthony said. "This is beyond comprehension."
Marciano pointed out that Grant did take her son to the hospital with his injuries and, though she initially blamed the father, she did come forward and admit her guilt.
Anthony said the 14 years' probation after Grant is released should be done under Lehigh County supervision and she is to have no direct or indirect contact with her children unless it is approved by a judge.
Grant, in a tan prison jump suit, stood shackled throughout the proceedings, barely speaking above a whisper when asked questions.
"Hopefully, your son is not going to have permanent injuries," Anthony told her. He said a doctor who had examined the boy stated that he is about four months behind most children his age.
Anthony said he was glad he had the chance to reconsider the lighter sentence and impose a longer one.