EATON — A woman was sentenced to eight years in prison for assaulting her infant daughter in Preble County Common Pleas Court Monday. Judge Stephen R. Bruns presided.
Holly Gray-Lapple, 22, of Eaton, stood trial in June on charges of felonious assault and endangering children, both second-degree felonies, as well as one count of causing serious physical harm to a child, a third-degree felony. A jury found the defendant guilty on all charges; Gray-Lapple was released pending sentencing at that time, despite a request by the prosecution to revoke bond.
According to Preble County Prosecuting Attorney Martin Votel, Gray-Lapple inflicted injuries on her infant daughter including a fractured skull, multiple bruises on her brain, bruises on her face and back, and a collapsed lung.
“This would have required multiple blunt-force impacts and/or shaking injuries,” Votel told the judge before sentence was handed down. The defendant claimed during trial that she had lightly bumped the child’s head against a wall.
“This really was a heinous crime against an innocent infant,” Votel continued.
Votel also read a statement from the victim’s father, who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“To inflict such a crime on another human being is bad enough. But your own child?” the statement read, in part. “Losing my own father was painful, but at least I knew he loved and protected me during the time he was alive. Having to explain to my daughter why Holly is no longer in her life will be painful beyond words. But Holly serving prison time will keep my daughter safe from any more harm.”
Attorney Kirsten Knight spoke in her client’s defense.
“There’s no excuse for what happened,” Knight said. “Holly knows she has failed her daughter in the worst possible way. But Holly came from a broken home herself, and had no kind of parenting.”
Judge Bruns said that three factors made the defendant’s crime more as opposed to less serious, thus necessitating a harsher sentence: that the victim suffered serious physical harm, that the harm was made worse by the victim’s mental or physical condition (in this case, her extremely young age), and that the defendant’s relationship to the victim facilitated the offense.
The judge also said that Gray-Lapple’s lack of remorse made recidivism more likely
“These horrific injuries must have been the result of a deliberate act by her own mother,” Bruns said. “And to top it all off, she failed to report the full extent of her daughter’s injuries to medical personnel in an effort to mask her own culpability.”
As previously reported by The Register-Herald, Gray-Lapple brought her daughter to the Preble County Emergency Room on Jan. 17, reporting that she had experienced a seizure. At that time she denied knowing what had caused bruises on the child’s forehead and eyelids. The child was transferred to Dayton Children’s Hospital, where Gray-Lapple repeated these claims to hospital staff and to a Preble County Sheriff’s Detective.
At trial, Dr. Kelly Liker, chief of the Child Advocacy Center at Dayton Children’s, testified the child’s injuries were consistent with multiple incidents of blunt-force trauma or severe “shaking” of the child. The jury deliberated for approximately 45 minutes before returning verdicts of guilty on all counts.
Bruns sentenced the defendant to eight years incarceration on the assault charge and three years, to be served concurrently, on the charge of endangering a child, less eight days credit for time already served.
Prosecutor Votel praised the court’s verdict in a press statement issued late Monday afternoon.
“We are lucky that Ellie is still with us, and equally as fortunate that the defendant received a sentence befitting her crimes against her daughter and this community,” Votel said.
Gray-Lapple’s sentence will be served in the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio.