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Army Major who severely beat his toddler with a belt wants jail sentence overturned

Airmen from the 39th Air Base Wing act as jurors during the 2nd Annual Keystone Mock Trial Competition at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, May 15, 2009. (Master Sgt. Edward D. Holzapfel/U.S. Air Force)
December 01, 2017

A U.S. Army Major who was dismissed from the Military and sentenced to six months in jail for severely beating his 3-year-old stepson with a belt, giving him cuts and welts, is seeking to have his sentence overturned.

Lawyers for Army Maj. David Jerkins this week filed an appeal to have the sentence overturned based on remarks from a general that reprimanded Jerkins for fraternizing, which his lawyers say “improperly influenced” the jury, Stars and Stripes reported. The appeals process takes on average four months before a decision is reached.

Army Maj. David Jerkins (Twitter)

The reprimand was issued before the 2014 trial, and it chastised Jerkins for a premarital relationship with the toddler’s mother.

The mother was a junior enlisted soldier when she married Jerkins in March 2011. She was separated from the Army nine months later; she gave birth two months after that, Stars and Stripes reported.

Jerkins’ lawyers say his conduct “occurred within the sanctity of marriage,” and that the reprimand should not have been admitted before the trial because it calls into question command influence.

Prosecutors had wanted a 10-month sentence for Jerkins. The maximum allowable would be 14 months.

The Army said the reprimand doesn’t matter “because the outcome would have been the same,” Stars and Stripes reported.

“Any error was harmless,” Army lawyers said, Stars and Stripes reported. “[There] was no significant impact on the sentence … for beating a toddler with a belt to the point of causing substantial, visible injuries.”

In an Appellee brief, it was recorded: “While the crime alone would have justified both the confinement and dismissal, Appellant never apologized for his conduct or showed any remorse for severely beating a toddler. At most, he said: ‘I no longer use a belt, corporal punishment, as a form of punishment.'”