Man Who Cut Cast Off Child's Leg Sentenced For Abuse

Aaron Conwell Gets 40-Year Sentence

A man who admitted he cut a cast off his 2-year-old stepdaughter's broken leg to keep welfare officials from suspecting the child was being beaten was sentenced to 40 years in prison after being convicted of the abuse.

The 40-year sentence was the maximum that Aaron J. Conwell could have received under the terms of a plea agreement with the Delaware County prosecutor's office.

"When people talk about terrible twos, they talk about children growing up and developing," Delaware Circuit Judge John Feick said during Wednesday's sentencing hearing. "The terrible twos for her was getting the hell beat out of her."

Conwell, 21, pleaded guilty last month to three counts of battery resulting in serious bodily injury to a person less than 14 years of age and two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury.

Muncie police arrested Conwell and his wife, 19-year-old Thurma Conwell, in October 2005 after child protection workers who visited the home on the city's west side found the toddler with two black eyes and bruises across her body and took her to a hospital for treatment.

According to court documents, the child, Haley Benson, suffered a broken leg, black eyes and bruises on her face, ear, legs, sides and back and received five stitches in her head between July and October 2005, when she was 2 years old.

"I mean, I know I could sit up here and say I'm sorry all I want to, but nothing I say is going to take back what happened," Conwell said Wednesday.

Conwell also acknowledged he had used a knife and wire cutters to cut a cast off the girl's leg to avoid raising the suspicions of welfare investigators.

Thurma Conwell is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, and is expected to plead guilty at an April 18 hearing.

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