The cases of two Dailey residents who allegedly beat their 9-year-old son with a metal pipe between 70 and 80 times was bound over to Randolph County Circuit Court Tuesday.
Magistrate Rob Elbon found probable cause in the case of Raymond James Kale Jr., 27, who is charged with two felony counts of child abuse resulting in injury, child abuse or neglect creating risk of injury. During a joint preliminary hearing in Randolph County Magistrate Court for Kale and his co-defendant, Loren J. Garcia, Elbon declined to modify Kale's bond, which is set at $250,000 cash only.
Elbon also found probable cause in the case of Garcia, who is charged with one felony count of child neglect resulting in injury, child abuse or neglect creating risk of injury; and one count of child abuse resulting in injury, child abuse or neglect creating risk of injury. Elbon did not modify Garcia's bond either, ordering that it remain at $100,000 cash only.
The charges stem from an incident that allegedly occurred May 13 at the couple's trailer in Dailey, which is located across from Shockey's Auto Sales, said Allyson Scott, a Child Protective Services employee who testified for the prosecution during Tuesday's hearing.
Scott testified that she and the investigating officer, Senior Trooper S.E. Hevener of the Elkins Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, interviewed the couple's 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter May 14 at a local elementary school after CPS received a complaint.
Garcia is the biological mother of the two children, while Kale is their stepfather, Scott said. The children had reportedly been misbehaving while the couple's landlord was visiting the trailer to fix a broken bathtub. When Kale arrived at home, Garcia allegedly told him about the incident.
"Mr. Kale returned home and the biological mother told him the children had been acting up," Scott told the court. "He said something to the effect of 'let's whack 'em,' so he grabs a metal pipe and starts striking (the 9-year-old male child) at which point the child starts to fight and scream. (The child) goes to run down the hallway. Mom goes down the hallway after him and drags him back into the living room and he was saying something to effect of 'no, no!'" Scott continued.
"Mom grabbed some dishwashing liquid and put it in his mouth at which time he reports that he vomited. According to the child mom then wiped his face in it," Scott testified. "After that, Mr. Kale continued to hit (the child) with the metal pipe... the child reported that the total number was about 70 or 80 times."
Scott said the boy had "blackish purple blue bruises" on his to his right buttock, another near his hip and a third on one of his forearms "that was almost completely round and had a little bit of an abrasion in the middle."
"The size and shape of the metal pipe would almost exactly match up to the long linear bruises on both of the children," she added.
The 7-year-old female child said she witnessed her brother being beaten and said the morning before the interview with Scott and Hevener, her stepfather, Kale, also allegedly hit her with the same pipe.
"She was in trouble for urinating in the bed the night before," Scott testified, adding that she observed "bruising on (the child's) right buttock also, like a greenish yellow in color."
The brother and sister were taken to Arbor Medical Associates for evaluation, but Scott told the court she had yet to receive results from the evaluation.
Garcia's attorney, Christopher Cooper, suggested that perhaps his client was afflicted by battered wife syndrome - "a circumstance wherein the battered wife acquiesces to the actions of whoever the batterer is and may not do something that is in her self-interest or somebody else's self-interest."
Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker and Kale's attorney, Dwight Hall, objected to Scott testifying about the particulars of battered wife syndrome. Cooper, however, countered that he was merely "trying to indicate to the court that there may be another explanation and one that you may need to consider in determining whether you bind this over to the grand jury."
Scott interviewed Garcia about whether she'd been abused by Kale and subsequently concluded that it was not an issue in the couple's household, she told the court.
Hevener, the prosecution's second witness, testified the children had allegedly been struck with a black metal pipe that measured 2 feet in length and an inch in diameter, saying the pipe was a spare part of a corner shower organizer.
He said he'd elicited a digitally recorded confession from Kale in which Kale allegedly admitted to striking his 9-year-old stepson with the pipe after learning that he'd been jumping up to smack the ceiling fan with his hand while the landlord was present.
In their closing arguments, Hall and Cooper questioned the state's definition of child abuse.
"It amounts to a fine line here," Hall remarked. "Back in the day, it was acceptable to use a switch or a belt or a paddle or whatever that object was to discipline your kids... is this child abuse? Where do you draw the line, your honor?"
Cooper asked if washing a child's mouth out with soap constituted child abuse.
"If that's the case, then I'm sorry for my parents: I certainly needed it because my mouth tends to run," Cooper said. Cooper also noted that none of the bruises on either child resulted from the actions of his client, Garcia.
"You do not have the necessary evidence to bind this over to the Circuit Court for abuse," he said.
Elbon, however, did just that, announcing that both cases would be bound over for grand jury consideration.
As of presstime, Garcia and Kale remained in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.