Brandy Smallwood of Fairdale pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of child neglect for leaving her 2-year-old twin boys home with her husband to go pay her oxycodone dealer.
The husband, James Travis Green, has pleaded guilty to beating the toddlers severely, resulting in the death of Graydon Morgan. His brother, Zeke, was found with injuries on the top of his head and face, as well as cigarette burns on his body.
Smallwood, 28, faces one to 10 years in prison for the first count and one to three for the second count, a potential of two to 13 years total.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller told Judge John A. Hutchison that the plea agreement would not have occurred if Green had not already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.
Green, 24, also of Fairdale, will be sentenced in January. He faces life in prison with mercy for first-degree murder and an additional two to 10 years for child abuse. He will have the possibility of parole after serving 15 years.
Keller said the state will pursue the maximum consecutive sentencing for Smallwood, who also faces up to $4,000 in fines.
Keller noted that the biological father of the twins, Adam Morgan, was incarcerated at Southern Regional Jail when Graydon was beaten to death, so the twins were not under his care and he cannot legally be held responsible.
Smallwood was maintaining telephone contact with Morgan, and Green was supposedly engaged to another woman, but Smallwood and Green went to Raleigh County Circuit Court Feb. 8 and got married.
Keller said the two reported that they got married that Friday so they would be allowed “to sleep together” at the rehab facility they were planning to go to on the upcoming Monday.
Plans for rehab came to a halt Friday evening, as the two sold a car for $2,000 and used the money to buy oxycodone.
When they returned home, Smallwood left shortly after to go pay a drug dealer, leaving Graydon and Zeke with Green.
Neighbors called 911 that evening to report an unresponsive and bloody toddler. Graydon was transported to Raleigh General Hospital, then Women and Children’s Hospital in Charleston, where he died Feb. 9 from his injuries.
Green’s defense attorney noted during his plea hearing that Green had “begged” not to be left alone with the kids.
“Did in fact Mr. Green indicate that he did not want you to leave him alone with the children?” Judge Hutchison asked Smallwood.
“No,” she replied.
“You knew he was seriously under the influence of oxycodone?”
“Yes,” Smallwood answered.
“And you were as well?”
Keller said that child neglect is a “non-intent” crime, but Smallwood did unreasonably fail to ensure the safety of her children.
Keller said that initially Smallwood said Green was fine with her kids, but then she said when he moved in, she started seeing injuries on her babies.
“Do you have any doubt in your mind you are guilty of these crimes?” Hutchison asked Smallwood.
Keller said Smallwood was initially being charged with accessory to murder, but under the statute, the state would have needed to prove she left her children with Green knowing that he was going to harm them.
In addition to the twins, Smallwood is also the mother of two other children, ages 12 and 7.
Keller said Smallwood is now defined by law as an “abusive parent” and cannot have contact with the surviving twin, Zeke, or live with any of her other children.
The other children are “in safe homes,” Keller said.
She said this is another example of the “drug abuse excuse,” where people blame whatever crimes they commit on their drug addiction.
Being a drug addict “does not excuse or explain” being “such a neglectful parent.”
Smallwood will be sentenced in January.
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