CONWAY, Ark.- The mother of a child abuse victim in Conway expressed disappointment on Wednesday after a suspect in her child’s case had a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
Last July, Elyssia Watkins’ daughter, Carrington, was seen on video getting teased with a taser and slapped on the head. Three teenaged babysitters were arrested in connection to the video.
The oldest suspect, who is now 18, originally faced a felony charge of child endangerment and was expected to be tried as an adult. However, on Wednesday at a court hearing in Conway, the felony child endangerment charge was downgraded to a simple assault charge and sent to juvenile court.
Here is what the deputy prosecutor read in court regarding the decision to amend the charges, which came from the Court of Appeals:
“The co-Defendant Juvenile case was appealed to the court of appeals while this case was pending. In that decision, the court also found that (the teen accused of felony child endangerment) could not be found guilty of Felony Endangering the Welfare of a Minor on a theory of accomplice liability.
Based on that the State moves to amend the Endangering welfare of a minor to assault 2nd.
Due to the amended charge being a misdemeanor, the state stipulates to a transfer to juvenile court under 9-27-318, as an operation of law.”
The Faulkner county prosecutor, Carol Crews, released this statement relating to the case:
“The Court of Appeals decision in the co-defendant’s appeal tied our hands in how we can legally proceed against (the teen once facing a felony charge). We are bound by the decision.”
“This has been a really trying year,” Watkins says.
“She’s (the oldest suspect) been out. It’s been almost a year, and she just has been out the whole time…and no remorse. I think that’s hurt more than anything that there’s no remorse.”
Since the incident last July, which garnered national coverage online, Watkins has been pushing for a new law that could help families avoid going through what hers has gone through.
Watkins says ‘Carrington’s Law’ would seek to impose stricter penalties on youth offenders, especially those who harm young children. She’s been in touch with state and federal lawmakers.
Carrington is now 2 years old. Watkins says she regularly sees a psychiatrist and has been diagnosed with PTSD.
Watkins continues to push for the new law with hopes of eventually getting justice.
“Honestly, I just think sometimes justice isn’t always served,” Watkins says.
The other two teenaged suspects had their cases handled in juvenile court.