During a hearing on Aug. 3, a domestic violence defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted second-degree cruelty to children and was sentenced to one-year of supervised parole.
The prosecutor alleged Marcus Harrison, 36, beat his fiance’s 4-year-old son with a belt and a drumstick on Jan. 9, 2020 and Jan. 10, 2020, at his fiancée’s residence while the victim was left home alone with Harrison.
When his mother admitted the victim into the hospital, doctors observed the victim suffering from bleeding, bruising on his legs, and two missing teeth, one of which was found in his intestines. The victim was given two doses of morphine to deal with the pain.
“The victim was in so much pain, the social worker couldn’t speak with him,” the prosecutor told DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Raffinan.
According to the prosecutor, the victim’s older sister accompanied the victim to the hospital and provided text messages exchanged between Harrison and the victim’s mother.
In one message, Harrison told his fiancée he beat the victim “because he didn’t want to listen. A kid gets beat when they don’t want to listen.”
The defendant later texted his fiancée, “I did overbeat him, I did.”
“There’s absolutely no remorse or concern for the victim displayed in these messages,” said the prosecutor.
After Judge Raffinan accepted Harrison’s guilty plea, the prosecutor then asked Judge Raffinan to sentence Harrison to the maximum sentence of 180 consecutive days of imprisonment for each count and one-year supervised probation with a stay-away order from the victim and the fiancée’s house. The prosecution also requested GPS monitoring.
The prosecutor cited the defendant and the victim’s family’s violations of a previous court order issued by the DC Family Court in 2020 concerning a separate, unrelated case involving Harrison and the victim’s family.
The prosecutor noted although the court order forbade the victim from having any contact with Harrison and ordered the victim to live with his biological father, the victim continued to spend a significant amount of time in his mother’s house, where Harrison would often show up. Due to these violations, the prosecutor argued there was a risk Harrison would continue to be present around the victim.
“The prosecution is extremely concerned for the victim’s safety,” said the prosecutor, arguing the family as a whole violated the court’s conditions. “Mr. Harrison is supposed to be staying away from him and it seems like no one in the family is abiding by that.”
Defense attorney Michael Bruckheim opposed the prosecutor’s sentencing request, pointing out Harrison’s full compliance with his high-intensity supervision program (HISP) release conditions since March 31 and full employment status.
“For the prosecution to suggest 180-days after Mr. Harrison has been on release in full compliance would strip all that away,”
Bruckheim also said the Family Court order was not directed at Harrison himself, but at the victim’s mother.
“Much of what the prosecution said relates to what the victim’s mother did in relation to the Family Court order,” said Bruckheim. “What the prosecution has not shown is any evidence that Mr. Harrison actively sought out the victim’s presence.”
Instead, Bruckheim asked Judge Raffinan to suspend the entirety of the 180-days imprisonment and to sentence Harrison to probation with participation in the Family Violence Intervention program. However, Bruckheim opposed issuing a stay-away order from the victim.
“As a man, I apologize for my actions,” Harrison said while audibly emotional. “From my past to my present, I’ve been through so much. I’ve been trying to be a better person, taking it one day at a time. I just want to do right with a second chance to show the black community that we can change, that we can be something.”
Judge Raffinan sentenced Harrison to 180-days of imprisonment, the entirety of which was suspended.
Harrison will be released on supervised probation for one year with a stay-away order from the victim and GPD monitoring at the discretion of the Court Services and Offender Services Agency (CSOSA). Harrison will also be required to attend a Family Violence Intervention program.
“Mr. Harrison, you are the grown-up,” Judge Raffinan told the defendant. “It’s partially because the victim may trust you that you cannot abuse him. He’s four years old, not even a quarter the size you are. The damage you have done to this child may never be restored.”
The issues with the DC Family Court’s order “need to be worked out in a Family Court setting,” said Judge Raffinan. “There’s not much I can do about it here.”
The prosecutor requested Judge Raffinan impose a stay-away order from Harrison’s fiancée’s residence, the location of the offenses, as well. However, Judge Raffinan denied the request, telling Harrison he should not be at the residence if the victim is there.
“While I don’t think the prosecution’s request is unreasonable at all, due to the extent of the injuries and your prior criminal history, you have shown an ability to abide by court conditions,” Judge Raffinan said.