A mother and stepfather have been found guilty for beating their 12-year-old daughter with a belt so badly that she bled.
On Tuesday, Aug. 29, prosecutors and defense lawyers made their closing arguments, and jurors deliberated for under two hours.
Jurors found the girl’s biological mother, Tchanavian Cantrell, and stepfather, John Cantrell, guilty on all counts.
Tchanavian was facing three counts and John was facing four counts, according to court documents.
A total of four people were charged with felonious assault and endangering children, but Tuesday’s trial focused on Tchanavian and John Cantrell.
“We have the systematic beating of the child,” Assistant Greene County Prosecutor Christian Cavalier said.
Prosecutors said John and Tchanavian were two of the four adults in a home that were involved in the abuse of Tchanavian’s then 12-year-old daughter.
The other two adults are Tammara Cantrell and Marquette Cantrell.
Prosecutors said the reason for the abuse is because the girl didn’t do her chores correctly.
“She was forced to take off her clothes. She was bent over a pool table and she was repeatedly struck by a leather belt that had metal or some sort of decorative finish on it. It was painful. It went on for a long period of time,” Cavalier said.
Defense lawyers said the child’s injuries did not match the accusations of the beatings, they argue she got the injuries from falling on concrete stairs and the driveway.
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Additionally, the defense said the family used other punishments like losing screen time.
“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It makes no sense. Even if you’re a sadistic person, you don’t hit a kid for missing a spot on the dishes,” John’s defense lawyer Mark Babb said.
The defense questioned the accuracy of some testimony during the trial, including the little girl.
They told the jury that their clients should be found not guilty, but the prosecutors had the final word.
“This is not child endangerment. This is a mom trying to discipline her child. Should she do it the right way? That’s up for opinion, but it isn’t against the law,” Tchanavian Cantrell’s Defense Lawyer Kirsten Knight said.
The prosecution told the jury that Tchanavian said the reason for this was because they wanted to leave an impression on her daughter.
“Problem is: the way they chose to go about it was criminal. The state would ask you to find them guilty of all charges,” Cavalier said.
John and Tchanavian’s bonds were revoked and both were booked into the Greene County Jail.
News Center 7 will continue following this case and update when the sentencing date is announced.