Parents sentenced in toe gnawing incident

Robbie Jenkins and Tremayne Spillman (WTVD)
February 5, 2010 10:43:59 AM PST
The Jacksonville parents who slept while a pit bull gnawed of their baby's toes have been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to child abuse charges.

Robbie Lynn Jenkins, 20, and and 23-year-old Tremayne Jerel Spillman pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony child abuse charge and a misdemeanor involving their 4-month-old son.

Jenkins was sentenced to between eight to 11 months in jail, and Spillman was sentenced to between 10 to 13 months. The couple received five months credit for time served. The judge also ordered them to complete parenting classes while in prison.

Prosecutors say the dog chewed the toes off of Tremayne Jerel Spillman Jr. after the couple took sleeping medication the night of Aug. 31 while dog sitting. The child was sleeping on a foldout couch when he was attacked.

The parents' actions amounted to a "total disregard for human life," Assistant District Attorney Matt Silva said.

The child will never be able to run, suffers from night terrors and phantom pains, has extensive scars on both legs and has to take pain medication every day, the child's guardian told the court.

He remains under treatment at the Shriners Hospital in Greenville, S.C., and is in the care of Jenkins' family members.

Jenkins' attorney, Suzanne Popkin of Jacksonville, told the court her client was a young, inexperienced mother, was taking a new medication and that what happened to the child was a terrible accident.

"That evening will haunt her for the rest of her life," Popkin said, asking the court for probation for her client so Jenkins could begin to put her life back together.

Jenkins told the court she was responsible and asked for mercy.

Superior Court Judge Ken Crow commended Jenkins for taking responsibility but said she also should be punished for her crime.

"Babies are not born with instruction booklets," said Crow, adding that the case was a perfect storm of inexperienced parents, a serious lack of judgment and children having children.

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