Child abuse suspect pleads to misdemeanor

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A 32-year-old Alabaster man who originally was charged with felony child abuse will spend the next several months on probation after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in Shelby County District Court in late May.

Birchfield

The Pelham Police Department arrested Birchfield on Dec. 14, 2016 on a felony child abuse charge. According to his arrest warrant, Birchfield allegedly “struck the victim multiple times across the back and his sides with a belt,” between Nov. 16-28. The victim, who was younger than 18, was in Birchfield’s custody at the time of the alleged incidents.

Birchfield was released from the Shelby County Jail the same day he was arrested after posting a $10,000 bond, according to jail records.

Birchfield’s original willful child abuse charge was a Class C felony, according to Alabama law, and was punishable by up to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

Through an agreement with prosecutors, Birchfield pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of third-degree assault in May, and was sentenced by District Court Judge Daniel Crowson to 12 months of supervised probation.

Birchfield originally was ordered to not have contact with the victim in the case, but Crowson granted a bond amendment request in February allowing Birchfield to have supervised visits with the victim after Birchfield began attending parenting classes on a regular basis.