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Grandma gets four years for abusing grandkids

A South Kitsap woman accused of hog-tying her adopted grandchildren was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to assault and unlawful imprisonment charges.

Although a week ago Deputy Prosecutor Claire Bradley finally revoked the plea agreement she had first offered Judith Kay Mann months ago, she agreed to give the defendant one more week at the request of her newest defense attorneys.

Mann, 61, was arrested on June 11 with her husband, Larry Lee, 66, after a malnourished 10-year-old boy who claimed to have escaped the Mann’s home on Bethel-Burley Road was found wandering in the middle of the night by Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies.

While Larry Mann accepted a plea agreement last month, Judith Mann declined, despite Bradley’s assertion that she would add “significantly more charges” to the one count each of second-degree assault of a child and unlawful imprisonment if Mann insisted on a trial.

At the hearing Friday next to her third defense attorney Randy Loun, however, Mann told Judge Leonard Costello “I am guilty, sir.”

Bradley told Judge Costello that although the maximum sentence for the child assault charge alone was 10 years, due to Mann’s lack of prior felony convictions she was recommending the defendant receive 48 months, which was the top end of the applicable range.

“What she did was unspeakable — hog-tying her adopted grandchildren for prolonged periods of time and feeding them only ice cubes and crushed graham crackers,” Bradley said, explaining that although Mann was obviously “overwhelmed” by having to care for three children mostly on her own, that “does not diminish, nor excuse, what she did.”

Bradley described the two victims as being covered with bruises and “very, very malnourished” when they were found. She said that although they were now “chunky and healthy” since returning to foster care, they would suffer from the mistreatment for a long time.

“Had her case gone to trial, the state would have been recommending an exceptional sentence, (but) Mann should be commended for (pleading) and not forcing her grandchildren to testify against their grandmother,” Bradley said.

Loun then spoke on behalf of his client, saying that while Mann now knows what she did was wrong, she suffered from mitigating circumstances at the time.

“Due to past lead poisoning, my client cannot take medications, and was suffering from a leg infection (at the time of the incidents) that she could not take antibiotics for,” he said. “When she was brought into the jail, her leg was almost black.”

Loun said Mann’s health problems and the resulting stress did not excuse her behavior, but they did “diminish her capacity to understand how wrong her behavior was.”

Mann then addressed Costello, saying she had done everything she could think of to handle the children in her care, who had reportedly suffered from severe behavioral problems due to fetal alcohol syndrome and the lack of a permanent home.

“I have done a lot of praying, and I pray that the kids would understand what happened and that they will not have lasting effects,” she said.

Costello was unmoved.

“You just don’t get it, do you?” Costello said. “You tortured (these kids) and you starved them. That won’t just go away. You have probably damaged them for life.”

Costello then said he was imposing the prosecutor’s recommendation of 48 months, along with credit for the time she has already served, which is more than six months.

“Forty-eight months seems like a bargain to me,” he said. “You did very well by yourself by accepting this plea agreement. Good luck to you, ma’am.”

Larry Mann is currently serving an eight-month sentence for reduced charges, as prosecutors determined that most of the abuse had been ordered and instigated by his wife.

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