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BY KEITH EPPS
A Stafford woman received a suspended sentence Wednesday after being convicted for the second time of abusing a child she was babysitting.
Betty Carol Mullins, 65, was sentenced in Stafford County Circuit Court to five years in prison with all of it suspended except for the few days she served following her arrest.
As part of a plea agreement, she entered an Alford plea to a charge of child cruelty and a child abuse charge was dropped. The Alford plea means that while Mullins denies committing the crime, but she acknowledges the evidence is sufficient for a conviction.
Mullins' latest conviction stems from a Dec. 6, 2011, incident involving a 2-month-old child she was caring for on Meadow Lane in North Stafford.
The father reported that he heard the baby screaming from the driveway when he picked her up at 5:30 p.m.
When Mullins opened the door, the baby was still crying hysterically and it took the father several minutes to calm her down, court records state.
The child's mother was giving the baby a bath later that evening when she noticed dark bruises in her buttocks area, records state. She took the child to Stafford Hospital and told police the bruises had not been there that morning.
Mullins has maintained all along that she did nothing to the child. But the parents said Mullins was the only one who had access to the baby.
Mullins received a three-year suspended sentence after a similar conviction in 2004. She entered an Alford plea in that case, too.
In the plea agreement accepted by Judge J. Martin Bass on Wednesday, Mullins agreed to never baby-sit again.
Defense attorney Mark Murphy said Mullins has cared for dozens of children over the years, and many of the parents she worked for still vouch for her today.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404