Mother sentenced in child abuse case

A 25-year-old woman who inflicted serious injuries on her 3-month-old baby while they were staying at a substance abuse treatment center in Groton last year was sentenced Tuesday in New London Superior Court to three years in prison.

Wonnita Smith had pleaded guilty to risk of injury to a minor. She will be on probation for four years after her release from prison and is prohibited from having unsupervised contact with the victim or any minor children.

According to prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman, Smith was staying at the Mother’s Retreat with her newborn son in June when she sought medical care for the child. Based on the severity of his injuries, he was transferred to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a broken left arm, broken right clavicle and two broken ribs.

Smith admitted being rough with the child and throwing him in the air. The child has since been placed with his father and has done “extraordinarily well,” according to Ferryman. At the time of her arrest, Smith was on parole in Ohio, where she had been convicted of robbing a woman using a screwdriver.

Smith’s attorney, Peter E. Scillieri, said that once off drugs, his client is a soft-spoken, reasonable and articulate person. He said she had a difficult upbringing and “couldn’t catch a break throughout her life, as far as I can see.”

Smith said she is “truly sorry about what happened” and that she needs drug and anger management treatment.

“This was pretty outrageous conduct,” said Judge Patrick J. Clifford. He noted that prior to the incident, Smith learned that genetic testing had proved that another man, not Smith’s current boyfriend, was the child’s father.

“I’m not sure if that caused the angry outbursts,” Clifford said. The child’s father has said he might be willing to let Smith have supervised contact with the child, Clifford said, while insisting that she never be alone with him.

k.florin@theday.com">k.florin@theday.com

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