Tue. May 28th, 2024

Prosecutors in Pennsylvania say it was by the Grace of God a “chatty” 5-year-old girl was able to be wheeled into a Luzerne County Courtroom on Thursday.

Earlier in 2022, prosecutors had expectations the girl was not going to survive after suffering “torture-like” injuries at the hands of 32-year-old Deborah Anne Holton and allegedly by the girl’s biological mother, 33-year-old Sheona Eyvonne Banks, inside a residence on Sylvanus Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Holton appeared before Judge David W. Lupas to be sentenced on child endangerment and reckless endangerment offenses involving abuse toward the girl and a 16-year-old boy with autism.

Lupas imposed an aggravated sentence above sentencing guidelines, sending Holton to state prison for five-to-17 years.

Lupas noted his reasoning for the hefty sentence after Tessa Weigand, a registered nurse in the emergency room at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Plains Township, described the condition of the girl when she was taken to the facility Feb. 25.

Weigand, who is trained in recognizing child abuse, described horrific injuries the girl sustained.

“This child was tortured,” Weigand told Lupas. “Had this been done to a soldier, it would be a war crime. This was a 4-year-old girl.”

Wilkes-Barre police detectives in court records say Holton and Banks took the girl to Geisinger about four hours after they claimed the child suffered a seizure.

Weigand said she repeatedly asked Holton and Banks how the girl was injured but received little to no response from the two women.

Assistant district attorneys Carly Hislop and Jarrett Ferentino said the girl was transferred to Geisinger Medical Center near Danville where she underwent emergency surgery and placed on life support.

As Hislop described the girl’s injuries to Lupas, the girl in a wheelchair was brought into the courtroom where the prosecutor remarked it was a miracle she survived, and being “chatty” while playing with toys on a wheelchair tray.

“This case is far more than neglect,” Hislop noted, describing the girl and the 16-year-old boy were not provided daily needs, including dental care, bathing and food.

Instead, Hislop and Ferentino said, Holton and allegedly Banks engaged in verbal and physical abuse toward the two children.

Hislop said the girl had no muscle tone and did not register on a growth percentile calculator.

Ferentino said the physical injuries the girl suffered were the worse he’s ever seen in his career as a prosecutor, spanning 18 years.

“I’ve stood here with killers and I’m shaking here today,” Ferentino said. “(Holton) got a break when the child survived. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Holton apologized, saying she “wished this never happened.”

Banks is scheduled for trial before Lupas in January on two counts of endangering the welfare of children and a single count of recklessly endangering another person. She remains jailed without bail at the county correctional facility.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com

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