The stepmother of a boy who showed up at school with bruises and a belt mark was ordered Wednesday to serve seven days in jail.
Jessica D. Estruch, 34, entered an Alford plea in Stafford County Circuit Court to a child cruelty charge. She was sentenced to a year in jail, with all but seven days suspended. A child abuse charge was dropped.
The boy’s father, Andrew John Estruch, will receive a similar disposition Thursday if he pleads to the same charge as expected.
According to the evidence, Child Protective Services was contacted earlier this year after the 9-year-old boy showed up at school with obvious marks. Both Estruches were arrested following a subsequent investigation by the Stafford Sheriff’s Office.
Prosecutor Ryan Frank said other children in the home confirmed the victim’s story regarding how he was injured. The evidence also showed that the boy was locked in his room for extended periods of time as punishment for behavioral issues.
The recommended state sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of up to six months, but Frank said he agreed to the plea so that the other children would not be forced to testify against their mother.
Jessica Estruch insisted that she was not guilty, but her parents stated in an email that she took the deal for the sake of her family.
Andrew Estruch gained custody of his son after the boy’s mother and her live-in boyfriend were convicted of severely abusing him in 2011. Carrie Michelle Woods and William Edwards Burd III are still serving time on those convictions.
The child was 15 months old in September 2010 when he was brought to Stafford Hospital with injuries that included a fractured skull, brain trauma and a broken jaw. Doctors initially did not expect the boy to live.
The boy is now in foster care.