Couple sentenced for assault of child
A Madras couple, Mariah Angeline Rodriguez, 26, and Antonio Burke-Gates, 27, were sentenced to prison May 10, for the 2016 assault of their 2-year-old daughter.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal mistreatment and third-degree assault, while Burke-Gates pleaded no-contest to the same charges, which resulted from physical and verbal abuse against their child between July 8 and Aug. 27, 2016.
Police discovered the abuse after Burke-Gates sent a video of the abuse to a relative, who reported the abuse to law enforcement. Burke-Gates filmed eight minutes of video showing Rodriguez, viciously striking their daughter — who is backed against a kitchen island — 27 times while the child screams. Rodriguez then forces the bruised and crying girl to walk around the kitchen island while she mocks her, according to Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche.
While filming the video, Burke-Gates tells Rodriguez that she is being too heavy handed with the child and complains that girl's injuries make it so they can't take her out in public. Nevertheless, he makes no effort to stop the abuse.
The two were arrested Sept. 2, 2016. Rodriguez was granted a conditional release on Sept. 6, 2016, and Burke-Gates posted security on Sept. 12, 2016, and was released.
Citing Rodriguez's abuse, and Burke-Gates failure to intervene, Detective Steve Webb, of the Madras Police Department, described the incident as "horrendous," in his testimony for the prosecution.
Under Oregon's sentencing guidelines, the two could have faced a sentence of only 90 days in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility and three years of supervised probation. However, Senior Deputy District Attorney Brentley Foster asked Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Dan Ahern to impose the maximum sentence possible under the guidelines — 18 months — due to the deliberate cruelty, severity of conduct and lack of remorse shown by both parents.
After playing the eight-minute video in court, Foster emphasized the comments made by both Rodriguez and Burke-Gates as she asked for the maximum sentence. The court record also showed previous unexplained injuries to the same child observed on two separate dates in 2015.
Rodriguez was represented by Paul Sumner, who mentioned Rodriguez's pregnancy at the time of the abuse, financial problems and the effects of medications as factors in her behavior.
Representing Burke-Gates, Dave Glenn, asked for the standard guideline sentence, since Burke-Gates wasn't the actual abuser. Burke-Gates' memories of his own abuse as a child caused him to freeze and prevented him from stopping Rodriguez's behavior.
Ahern sentenced both parents to 13 months in prison with credit for time served and eligibility to receive time off for good behavior. While the sentence was shorter than requested by the prosecution, Ahern said that the two needed to experience the system and pay their debt to society.
The judge suggested that if a stranger had treated their daughter the same way they had, Rodriguez and Burke-Gates would have been outraged at the thought of a probationary sentence for their conduct.
"A father has an absolute duty to protect his child, even against the mother, so that is why we asked for both parties to receive the same sentence." Leriche noted afterward. "He just sat there and recorded the beating and failed to protect his 2-year-old child."
While the prison sentence will not prevent them from regaining custody of their children, Ahern said that he hoped it would drive home the severity of their conduct.
Leriche expressed gratitude to Dennis Strange, of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, who obtained the video and sent it to the Madras Police Department, and appreciation to Webb and officer Brent Schulke, who responded to and investigated the case.