Ann Marie Francis

Francis

A Stafford County teenager who permanently injured his foster mother last year by pummeling her with a baseball bat was ordered Thursday to serve 20 years in prison.

Sky Thaddeus Cutler, 16, was sentenced in Stafford Circuit Court by Judge Charles Sharp to a total of 40 years with 20 years suspended. He previously pleaded guilty to aggravated malicious wounding and malicious wounding and was tried and sentenced as an adult.

Cutler attacked Ann Marie Francis and her 86-year-old aunt-in-law, Thelma Belizaire, on Aug. 26 at their home on Carriage Hill Drive in southern Stafford.

There was no obvious reason for the attack. Cutler had temporarily lost some privileges for not completing some chores he’d been asked to do, but witnesses said he didn’t seem particularly upset about it.

Cutler, who is listed at 6 feet 3 inches tall and 250 pounds, said Thursday that even he doesn’t know why he reacted that way and added that he is sorry. He spent most of the nearly three-hour hearing with his face buried toward his lap.

According the the evidence presented by prosecutor Ryan Frank, Cutler was sitting in his bedroom with the baseball bat when Francis’ husband left for work. He then ambushed Francis, striking her repeatedly with the bat.

Belizaire came out of the bathroom upon hearing the commotion, and Cutler briefly turned his rage on her, striking her several times. He then resumed the attack on Francis, who somehow staggered into the front yard.

Frank put on multiple witnesses, including Francis, who gave emotional testimony about the devastating impact her injuries have had on her and her family and friends.

Francis, who said Cutler was treated like a member of the family during his months in the home, said Thursday that she knew that if she collapsed in the house that she would have been killed.

She nearly died anyway, but neighbor Roy Layne heard screams next door and saw Francis in her yard with blood spurting out of her. He used his finger to clear blood and dislodged teeth out of her mouth so she could breathe and performed CPR until rescue workers arrived.

Frank said that Francis would have died if not for Layne’s quick response.

Frank said Francis had “every bone in her face crushed” and has gone through at least eight surgeries. Her appearance and quality of life has permanently changed, and there is still a chance she will lose her eyesight because of the injuries.

He said the crime scene pictures “are the most horrific ones I’ve ever seen.” He asked Sharp to give Cutler life in prison.

Defense attorney Terence Patton agreed that Cutler needlessly caused a “tragic situation,” but he asked for mercy.

He said Cutler has significant mental health problems and has been “in and out” of mental health facilities. He said he was on lithium and other drugs at the time of the attack.

He added that Cutler’s mother died when he was very young and that he has only met his father once. That meeting occurred in a prison.

But Frank said none of that excused the unprovoked attacks on Francis and Belizaire. Witnesses said that Francis, once an active member of the community, has been reduced to a woman who is afraid to be alone in her own home.

She had been a foster mother for a number of years, but will no longer take in foster children.

“She has touched so many peoples’ lives,” Frank said. “Because of [Cutler], the life of a woman who everyone loved has been ruined.”

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