Joseph Douglas Franks, 30, and Andrea Ashley Limon, 27, the Northern Michigan couple who were initially charged with torture and first degree child abuse, appeared in Circuit Court before Judge Thomas Power recently. They were both sentenced, and will now be spending a significant part of their future in prison for the child abuse conviction.
The child abuse charges against them came as the result of an investigation that took months and broke many hearts. It all started when police arrived at the Long Lake Township home in response to a domestic issue – a babysitter had called police to report that she had found a 4-year-old child in her crib, wearing urine soaked clothes and, in her opinion, was visibly underweight.
A deputy spoke to the couple about the concerns over the child’s welfare, but became suspicious when it was evident that Franks was hiding something. He held the child well- wrapped in a blanket during the entire interview, even though it was warm outside. The deputy assumed that this was to keep her body out of sight. As it turns out, he was right.
When Franks was finally required to put the child down, the blanket fell away to reveal extensive bruising all over her body, scabbed-over wounds on her face and neck, and chunks of hair missing from her head. CPS was immediately contacted and the child was taken into protective custody.
Franks is said to have told authorities that the girl’s injuries were the result of fits that she throws. But after speaking to the little girl’s grandmother, authorities discovered that there is no history of the child ever having harmed herself. The grandmother was awarded temporary custody after the child’s release from the hospital.
Franks was sentenced first, having accepted a plea bargain. He pled guilty to a charge of second degree child abuse, and was given 4 to 10 years. Limon’s sentencing took place the very next day. Having accepted the same plea bargain as Franks, she also pled guilty to a reduced charge of second degree child abuse. She was sentenced to 57 months (almost 5 years) to 10 years in prison.
In addition to the prison sentence, Limon’s plea bargain agreement included the fact that she would be required to give up parental rights to both the 4-year-old girl and the child that she is currently pregnant with.