CANTON, Miss. (WLBT) - A Canton mother has been sentenced to serve 30 years for “one of the most horrible cases of child abuse” the Madison and Rankin County District Attorney has seen.
District Attorney John K. Bramlett, Jr., announced Thursday that Latasha Leonard was sentenced to serve 30 years for felonious abuse of a child.
In 2017, Madison County Child Protective Services received a complaint about possible neglect on Latasha Leonard.
“Every year we get an average of 47,000 phone calls,” said Lea Anne Brandon, CPS director of communications.
“Our front line workers will go out, introduce themselves the family, try to get their barriers down so they’re not so defensive. but to say 'we’re here to check on things, how is the family?” explained Brandon.
Through a joint investigation of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Canton Police Department and Child Protective Services, it was discovered that Leonard had a 10-year-old son that had been severely abused and neglected.
He was only 3’4” and weighed 41 pounds – the size of an average 3 to four-year-old child - upon admittance to the hospital. He also had an untreated broken femur bone that had healed with no apparent medical intervention.
Additional investigation revealed that the child had never been enrolled in school, had not received any medical care or immunizations since he was eighteen months old, and was made to stay in a small space between a dresser and the wall in the family’s home almost twenty-four hours a day.
He was frequently tied up, beaten, and denied food by Leonard. He was not allowed to go outside and play or eat dinner with the rest of the family. Leonard even attempted to deny his existence to law enforcement at the beginning of the investigation.
“Taking children from the home is something we do when the children are in danger, not just because there’s a problem,” said Brandon; this is a case where removal had to take place.
The child was placed in a therapeutic foster home and has received care from various practices at UMC including getting eyeglasses, hearing aids, growth stimulants, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. He also started pre-K after coming into CPS custody, at the age of 11, and has since learned to read and write and is now getting ready to enter the seventh grade.
The other children did not show signs of abuse when they found. Brandon said this is a common theme.
“There are often times, one child can bare the runt of a mother and father’s frustration and for some reason they can treat four children perfectly well, feed them well, take them to school. [But] one child, for whatever reason, is the one that they take out their anger or whatever upon, and that child gets abused," said Brandon.
“This was one of the most horrible cases of child abuse I have ever seen in all my years as a prosecutor. Thanks to the hours of work by MBI, CPS, CPD, numerous UMC pediatric units, and the devotion and love of his foster mother, this child has been able to attend school, receive medical care, and receive the food, love, and attention that every child deserves from their parents," said District Attorney Bramlett. "As a father, I cannot image doing something like this to my own flesh and blood and am glad that Ms. Leonard will spend her foreseeable future in prison. She basically forced this child to live in a cell his entire life and now it is her turn to live like that.”
Anthony Holiday, the child’s father, pleaded guilty to condoning the abuse back in 2017 and received a max sentence of 5 years.