Sabrina Lynn Criswell, 24, of 282 Commerce St., New Cumberland, told Hancock County Magistrate Scott Hicks she understood the charge against her but did not enter a plea. She faces one felony count of gross neglect of a child (creating substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury).
Criswell, represented by Weirton attorney Dave Mascio, waived her right to a preliminary hearing, meaning the case will be transferred to Hancock County Circuit Court. It is likely the grand jury will hear the case in January.
When Mascio asked about reducing the bond amount, Hicks told him to take it up with the Circuit Court judge. Criswell is being held in the West Virginia Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville on a $100,000 bond.
Criswell was arrested on Tuesday after Hancock County authorities visited her home on Dec. 1 and found her 2-year-old son suffering from symptoms allegedly related to the “deplorable” conditions, court records indicated.
On Friday, Hancock County Assistant Prosecutor Allison Cowden, who handles child abuse and neglect cases, said the boy is living with a family member.
“The child’s getting treatment and is doing fine and is safe,” Cowden said, declining further comment because of confidentiality requirements.
The child’s status will be adjudicated by the Circuit Court, which is tasked with handling abuse and neglect proceedings in West Virginia. Meanwhile, Child Protective Services will do an assessment of the family situation and how it could be improved, Cowden said.
OVERWHELMED BY GARBAGE
On December 1, police accompanied Child Protective Services and the Hancock County dog warden into the home for the first time. They couldn’t believe their eyes – or noses.
“There was a strong smell of urine in the house and feces,” New Cumberland Police Chief Lester Skinner said. “There was garbage piled almost up to the front door on the porch to open the door get in.”
According to the criminal complaint, the small child greeted authorities at the door, wearing only a diaper. Officials say his feet were covered in dog feces.
“The child walked through it like it was everyday practice for him,” Skinner said. “It didn't bother him at all. He didn't try to step over it or anything.”
Skinner says six adults and the child were in the home, along with four poodles and poodle mixes that were removed. Several of the dogs had missing hair, were dehydrated and had fleas and worms.
Two are being kept at the Hancock County Animal Shelter, and two are in foster care. One of the dogs is pregnant.
Three of the dogs belong to Criswell’s mother, Karen Lynn Reese, 45, who was charged with three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. Reese is the owner of the 808-square-foot home that sits on a hillside on Commerce Street, according to the Hancock County Assessor’s Office.
Full name: Karen Lynn Reese
Arrest age: 45
Height: 5ft 5in
Weight: 135 lbs.
Charge(s): Cruelty To Animals
Full name: Sabrina Lynn Criswell
Arrest age: 24
Height: 5ft 3in
Weight: 125 lbs.
Arrest Date: 12/06/2016
Charge(s): Gross Neglect Of Child Creating Risk Of Injury Or Death (1-5 Yrs)
(Weirton Daily Times - December 11, 2016)