A Stafford jury recommended a whopping 252-year prison sentence this week for a county man who repeatedly physically abused his two stepchildren over a number of years.
Michael Andrew Keesecker, 46, was convicted of 26 offenses during a two-day trial that ended Thursday in Stafford Circuit Court, including 10 counts of child abuse, seven counts of malicious wounding and five counts of strangulation.
He will be formally sentenced Sept. 23 by Judge Victoria Willis.
According to the evidence presented by prosecutor Ryan Frank, Keesecker became involved with the victims’ mother about a decade ago and later married her. Things were OK for a while, the victims testified, but became progressively worse as the years went on.
In recent years, Frank said, the victims suffered “routine, consistent torture” that involved the use of such things as knives, screwdrivers and a metal spatula. He also strangled them into unconsciousness on numerous occasions, according to the testimony.
Much of the abuse came during interrogations, when Keesecker tried to pry information from the children about their mother’s activities or their own behavior. The abuse often went on for hours or until the children told Keesecker whatever it was he wanted them to say.
During the trial, the victims, one male and one female, described incidents that included dozens of punches to their faces at a time, kicks between the legs and knives scraped along their bodies.
The abuse went on for years, but the charges date back only to the middle of 2017 because those were fresher in the victims’ memories, Frank said. “This was so routine, dates don’t have meaning to them,” the prosecutor said.
Among the incidents described to the jurors was one in which the girl’s hand was split open with a metal spatula. After wound was closed with a makeshift bandage, Keesecker pressed his thumb into the wound until the victim confessed to whatever accusation Keesecker was making.
That victim, now a young woman, exploded at Keesecker during the sentencing part of the trial, shouting, “We asked you so many times to stop and you just wouldn’t stop!”
Dr. Robin Foster, a pediatrics emergency medical physician in Richmond, testified that the boy required reconstructive surgery for damage that had been done to his nose and that the girl had a bone in her throat that was detached from the muscle. Foster said the girl’s condition was consistent with severe strangulation.
The victims said that Keesecker also abused their mother and threatened each of them with death if they ever told anyone. The victims said they believed Keesecker’s threats and said they didn’t make plans for adulthood because they never expected reach it.
The abuse finally came to light in January of last year, when Keesecker was involuntarily committed for mental health evaluation. The victims and their mother went to the Stafford Sheriff’s Office and told detectives about the long-standing abuse.
Keesecker was arrested and has been in jail for more than a year. He didn’t testify during the trial, but his attorney, Alexander Raymond, argued that the evidence was not sufficient for convictions and questioned why the mother didn’t stop the abuse.
The mother filed for divorce after Keesecker was arrested.