Prison sentences given in pool casePublished 5:56pm Wednesday, May 1, 2013
By MONA MOORE
and VAIL STEWART RUMLEY
The four defendants initially charged with felonious child abuse and assault received active prison sentences Wednesday in Beaufort County Superior Court.
All four made plea deals with the state for the July 11, 2011, incident in which 4-year-old Jasmine Collins was thrown from a rooftop, landing on the railing of an above-the-ground pool.
Camelia Cartwright, Emanuel Ruffin, Brandon Woolard and Megan Woolard were present for the event that landed Jasmine Collins in the hospital for a combined 40 days, according to District Attorney Seth Edwards.
Cartwright and Ruffin pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in serious injury, a class E felony; the Woolards pleaded guilty to assault inflicting serious bodily injury, a class F felony.
Jasmine’s mother, Danielle Kraft, addressed the court before Wednesday’s sentencing.
“I’m not asking for them to go to prison for the rest of their lives,” she said. “I’m just asking for justice for my daughter. I want to look her in the eye one day and say that, ‘They at least paid for part of what they did to you.’”
Edwards, who spoke prior to Kraft speaking, described two separate but related incidents that led to the child’s injuries.
“We have the act of putting a 4-year-old on the roof and attempting to throw her in the pool; and we have the act of covering up what happened and lying to the medical personnel,” he said.
In the end, any of the four could have easily prevented the incident from happening, said Edwards, but none of them did. As a result, the child‘s kidney was split in half. Edwards said medical bills in the incident exceed $1.5 million.
In Edwards’ recitation of the case facts, he pointed out that Jasmine had been left in the care of Camelia Cartwright, a good friend of her mother’s, who took her to the Woolards’ home. According to Edwards, the adults would, on occasion, jump off the mobile home’s roof into the pool “just for fun,” but it was Brandon Woolard’s attempt to toss Jasmine into the pool falling short that resulted in severe injury. At the time, Megan Woolard was also on the roof and had assisted Jasmine in climbing up, while Cartwright stood on the ground beneath them. According to defense attorney Marc Haggard, Ruffin was inside the mobile home as the events unfolded and only had time to walk out of the house and ask why the child was on the roof before Brandon Woolard attempted to throw her in the pool.
“He moved to act, but he was too late,” Haggard said.
Because those involved were not truthful with the mother about the way Jasmine was injured, the child spent several hours waiting in the emergency room at Vidant Beaufort Hospital, according to Edwards.
“Unbeknownst to them at the time, this child was bleeding internally,” Edwards said.
Edwards said the incident resulted in a collapsed lung and one kidney being “essentially cut in half,” 22 days in intensive care at Pitt Memorial Hospital and $1.5 million in medical bills.
All four defendants faced Judge W. Russell Duke as their lawyers laid out the mitigating factors that could affect sentencing.
“This was stupid. It was poor behavior by the adults in the case,” said Megan Woolard’s defense attorney Brian Jones. “In regard to Ms. Woolard assisting Jasmine, Ms. Woolard regrets that she did not do more to stop it.”
Attorney John Bramble, representing Brandon Woolard, said of the incident, “What started out as fun and games almost ended with the loss of a little girl’s life. He’s (Woolard) taking responsibility here.”
Defendants addressed the court before the sentencing began.
Megan Woolard said she and the other defendants did not intend to harm Jasmine.
“It was a true accident,” she said. “I apologize to the mother.”
She said she called Cartwright to make sure that Jasmine was taken to the emergency room.
Cartwright chose to speak directly to Kraft.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her,” she said, crying.
Cartwright and Ruffin were each sentenced to 17 to 30 months in prison.
Megan Woolard was sentenced to 16 to 20 months in prison.
Brandon Woolard was sentenced to 19 to 23 months in prison for the assault charge and six to eight months in prison for possession of marijuana. As part of his plea agreement, the sentences will be served concurrently.
All four defendants were ordered to pay court costs and more than $1.5 million in restitution.