York County mom who held baby's head under scalding water hears sentence
A former Dallastown woman who repeatedly held her baby's head under scalding-hot water after losing patience with the girl has been sentenced to the maximum allowed by her plea agreement with prosecutors.
Brandy Marie Gentzler, 23, pleaded guilty Oct. 9 to one count of felony aggravated assault for causing her child to suffer second-degree burns. An examination of the baby also found older healed injuries, according to court documents.
It was an open plea, meaning it was up to presiding Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook to determine the proper punishment, but there was an agreed-upon sentencing cap of no more than three to six years in state prison, plus probation.
Gentzler's defense attorney, John White, argued for a shorter sentence, saying she's a single mother with two young children.
"She will have to live with what she did to her child for the rest of her life," White told the judge.
"The nature of this offense is very troubling, very serious," Cook said, adding that children trust parents to care for them and provide for their needs.
"For such a young child to experience second-degree burns, she was in an incredible amount of pain when the injuries were inflicted," said Cook, a former family-court judge.
Cook noted that Gentzler was living with her grandparents at the time, suffered from some substance-abuse issues and that an evaluation suggested she could be suffering from depression.
In addition to the three-to-six-year sentence — for which Gentzler is receiving 295 days' credit for time already served — Cook also ordered the young mother to undergo two years of probation and submit to a mental-health evaluation.
Cook said she's not opposed to Gentzler having supervised contact with her children while incarcerated, if that's something the state Department of Corrections is willing to arrange.
The background: State police said Gentzler caused her 16-month-old daughter to suffer second-degree burns on Dec. 31 by holding the baby's head under hot water because the child wouldn't stop screaming.
"Please shut up. Are you going to shut up yet?" police said she asked her child while holding her head under the faucet.
Gentzler's baby suffered other injuries as well, including three broken bones and a bite mark, all caused by her mother, according to police.
Police said the abuse happened in a home in the first block of East Frederick Street in Dallastown.
State police Trooper Tina Peters was called to investigate in January after child-protective workers reported the abuse, according to court documents.
Police said Gentzler's child was taken to York Hospital that day to be treated for second-degree burns to her face. The child had to be flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, according to officials.
On Jan. 3, a nurse there informed Peters that the child had a broken rib, broken right elbow and broken left clavicle, all of which were healed, court documents state.
The child also had a bite mark on her left wrist, police said.
On Jan. 28, investigators spoke to Gentzler, who admitted she has been rough with her daughter more than once, according to police.
Baby 'won't shut up': When asked about the baby's broken bones, Gentzler said her daughter wants attention all the time, cries and "won't shut up," court documents state.
She admitted to squeezing the girl while holding her when she told her to shut up, and Gentzler also said she shook her daughter, police said.
Her daughter cried for a few minutes then stopped, and Gentzler saw a hand mark on her daughter's chest the next day, police said.
"(Gentzler) said she felt like s— and didn't deserve her," Peters wrote in court documents.
She admitted she could have broken the baby's rib and also said she grabbed the child really hard on one occasion, which could explain the elbow and clavicle fractures, police said.
To explain the bite mark, Gentzler told police her daughter bit her once while she was feeding her, so Gentzler bit her hand "to show her that biting hurts," court documents state.
When asked about the burns, Gentzler repeatedly told police she wanted her child to stop crying but the girl wouldn't, according to documents.
Kept screaming: Gentzler turned on the water in the bathtub and held the child under it, but her daughter would not stop screaming, police said.
Gentzler shoved her baby's face under the faucet four or five times because the child would not stop screaming, documents state.
Gentzler kept her daughter under the water until she realized how hot the water was getting, according to police.
She noticed her daughter's face getting red, and she thought she had really hurt the child, officials said.
Gentzler put her child on her chest, and when she pulled the toddler's face back, there was a piece of skin from the girl's face on Gentzler's sweatshirt, court documents state.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.