Murray Gets State Time For Endangering, Assaulting Daughter
Moments after a Thompson Township woman was led away to begin a state sentence for assaulting her 2-year-old daughter, the woman’s former boyfriend requested to withdraw his guilty plea in the child end anger- ment case.
Arrested November 16, 2011, by Pennsylvania State Police after her child was taken to the emergency room at Fulton County Medical Center with bruising covering the majority of her head, face and body, 27- year-old Joscelyn Amber Murray has remained incarcerated in the Franklin County Prison while awaiting sentencing on one count each of endangering the welfare of a child and simple assault. The maximum combined sentence for the two charges is 12 years.
Standing before Fulton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carol L. Van Horn, Murray told the court she was wrong in her actions. She said she herself was abused as a child, and she would take responsibility for “being there, for some of the harm caused her daughter and not seeking medical treatment.”
Having taken a variety of classes and treatments in prison, such as anger management, parenting and job skills, the 27-yearold said she wanted to become a respectful person and go on to college and obtain a job. When asked if she had previously seen the photos showing the extent of her daughter’s injuries, Murray admitted she had and referred to it as devastating.
In the meantime, Judge Van Horn stated she was unable to reconcile Murray’s multiple versions of how her daughter suffered the injuries. “We may never know what happened and at whose hands they were suffered,” said the judge. “Failure to act deserves the same punishment ... I don’t know what you did to your daughter. You are 100 percent responsible because you failed to act, inflicted the injuries or both ... The only good news is that she has apparently recovered.”
At the time of the child’s hospitalization and subsequent transfer to Hershey Medical Center, the girl had swollen eyes, which were closed tightly with large abrasions beneath. In addition to the bruising across her body, she was also missing a large portion of her hair and a wound on her right thigh that appeared to be caused by a strap-type object as well as a dime-size infected wound on her left leg.
“The purpose of this sentence is to hold you accountable ... and let the community know crime will not be tolerated,” Van Horn added. “You showed great indifference toward your daughter, a 2-year-old defenseless child ... The amount of trauma is beyond my comprehension. How many blows or times did she suffer pain?”
Murray, of 2427 Heavenly Acres Ridge Road, was ordered to complete a total of 20 to 84 months in a state correctional institution. Credit was granted for time served to date. Restitution in the amount of $9,731 is owed to the state Department of Public Welfare.
In addition to being unable to contact her daughter, Murray must refrain from speaking with co-de- fendant Lance Alan Hixon, of 1889 Lehman Road, Warfordsburg. Hixon also appeared in court on June 12 for sentencing on one count of child endangerment, which carried a maximum penalty of seven years incarceration.
However, defense attorney Matthew Zatko told the court in meeting with Hixon his client was requesting to withdraw the guilty plea he entered on January 31. Zatko must submit the proper documentation outlining the basis and reasoning for the motion within 20 days. A hearing will then be held to hear arguments in the case.
Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall reminded Hixon, 32, in the event he is able to successfully withdraw his plea, all charges, including simple assault and aggravated assault of a child, will be back on the table for a jury trial.
The mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated assault of a child is five years, Kendall noted.
Charging documents in the case indicate Hixon’s grandmother is reportedly responsible for observing the girl’s injuries at Hixon’s Union Township residence and insisting she receive medical treatment.
An affidavit of probable cause alleges Hixon told investigating officers, “ ... When the victim arrived (on November 2) he observed a bump on the victim’s forehead and slight bruising on her face. He related on the evening of November 3, the victim’s eyes began to swell ... He related the victim struck her head off the toilet.”
Hixon allegedly went on to tell police he helped subdue the girl while her eyes were being flushed to reduce the swelling. “ ... The victim was fighting and resisting so he had to hold her very hard ... Hixon also related he had to use his body weight to help subdue the victim,” stated the affidavit.