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Baby-beating mom gets hard prison time

By Walter Geiger After an emotionally-charged session in Monroe County superior court Jan. 12, Linda Jessica Gunn was sentenced to hard prison time after pleading guilty to three of the eight charges against her. She pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and two counts of first degree cruelty to children. ‘I’ll let you decide on the sentencing but we need to make sure to get her out of her kids’ lives,’ assistant district attorney Mark Daniel told Judge Tommy Wilson. The charges arose in early March, 2014 when Gunn, also known as Linda Jessica Street, took her three-month-old daughter Victoria to Griffin for medical care. Dr. Tommy Hopkins found the child had a fractured femur and notified law enforcement. The child was sent to Spalding Regional Hospital where multiple bruises, indicating a pattern of abuse, were found as was a brain bleed. The subsequent investigation indicated the injuries were inflicted at the home where Gunn was living at 366 Liberty Hill Rd. in Milner. Daniel said Gunn, who was pregnant with another child at the time of the assaults, had beaten the baby against a headboard, dropped her off the bed several times, thrown a cell phone at her and ‘˜popped’ her on the head with a soda bottle. Defense attorney J. Lansing Kimmey reiterated that the defendant had also been abused as a child. ’When she was seven months old, her father broke her arm by throwing her down. He got five years probation. This is how Miss Gunn started out life,’ Kimmey said. He said both Gunn’s parents had drug problems and she struggled in special education classes at school. She dropped out and went to a treatment center but got no counseling or therapy there. Kimmey said Gunn was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and put on anti-psychotic medications after her arrest. ‘That was the first time she got significant medication and counseling for emotional problems,’ he noted. He said Gunn is borderline mentally retarded, has been the victim of two sexual assaults and suffered psychotic episodes after Victoria was born with physical problems involving her digestive system. ’She couldn’t subtract, didn’t know how many months are in a year and didn’t know who Abraham Lincoln was. She didn’t understand how to take care of a baby. That is the main issue here. Her second child was born while she was in jail. Both kids were adopted out and have no ongoing issues. Had that happened to Miss Gunn, we likely wouldn’t be here today,’ Kimmey argued. He said Gunn had only one shoplifting charge on her record prior to her arrest, had cooperated with authorities and taken responsibility for her actions. Kimmey suggested Judge Wilson consider a sentence of 10 years to serve and 10 years on probation as they had discussed previously. ’I’m not in that mood today. You can withdraw your plea if you want,’ Judge Wilson answered. Kimmey briefly conferred with Gunn but she indicated she wanted to proceed. Daniel asked that the sentence restrict Gunn from being around children under age 16 and require her not to have any more children. Looking Gunn in the face, Daniel added, ‘I was not here in 1994. Had I been here your father would be in prison,’ he said. The woman who has adopted both of Gunn’s children took the stand and gave a statement. She asked that Gunn not be allowed to contact the kids. She also alleged Gunn’s mother and others in her family had put photos of the children on social media and posted slanderous comments about her and her husband. ’They lashed out at us. I want that stuff taken down,’ the adoptive mother said. (Note: The Herald Gazette does not identify adoptive parents as a matter of policy.) Judge Wilson then addressed Gunn’s mother, Tamara Spires. ‘I’m telling you that crap is going to stop today,’ he admonished, threatening them with jail time if they did not comply. Sobbing, Spires asked for mercy for her daughter as did her grandmother, Sheila Spires. Judy Conner, the woman with whom Gunn lived at the time of the abuse, appealed on Gunn’s behalf as did a minor female cousin of Gunn. Gunn also wept as she tried to address the judge. Her testimony was largely unintelligible from the public area of the courtroom but at one point she said, ‘My baby got caught in the couch’. ’I want the truth,’ Judge Wilson thundered and Gunn finally admitted she had caused the injuries. Addressing Kimmey, the judge continued, ‘All I am hearing is excuses. All she knows how to do is produce babies and she has no idea how to take care of them.’ ‘She wanted a baby to have someone to love her,’ Kimmey countered. ’We keep condoning stuff in society and let it go on and on. We keep petting people on the hand and I am sick of it. This is not all your fault but some of it is. You had the baby. The good Lord has blessed me with a short memory. I won’t remember your case tomorrow,’ Judge Wilson told Gunn. He then sentenced her to 30 years in prison to be followed by 30 years on probation. She can never possess a gun and must stay away from children under age 16. She is also barred from reaching out to her children but may respond if they seek her out. Gunn was led away in handcuffs and shackles. Many others left the courtroom in tears.

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