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07-06-06 Mom admits to shooting pellets at son

By Shelley Grieshop

  A Celina woman has pleaded guilty to torturing her 4-year-old son by shooting him repeatedly on numerous occasions with a spring-air pellet gun.

  Martha Groenewoud Smith, 22, formerly of 12112 E. Wayne St., offered a plea of guilty to a third-degree felony charge of child endangerment during a hearing Wednesday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

Another charge of child endangerment was dismissed in a plea agreement.

Smith, who recently married and is expecting another child, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A sentence hearing was set by Judge Jeffrey Ingraham for Aug. 2.

  Flanked by her attorney, Judy Koesters, and accompanied to court by her husband, Smith quietly answered questions posed to her by Ingraham. Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox read the facts of the case that state the young mother of four repeatedly used a pellet gun to "torture and cruelly abuse" her son.  Ingraham then turned to Smith to confirm she understood the allegations.

  "Is that accurate to the underlying facts of this case Ms. Groenewoud?" he asked.

  "Yes," she answered softly.

  The 4-year-old and two siblings -- a daughter and son who were 5 years old and 6 months, respectively, when their mother was indicted in January -- are currently in foster care. Another child of Smith's reportedly lives with his father.

  The case is being handled jointly with the county children's services agency. Neither Ingraham or Fox have revealed any information about the future placement of Smith's children following her sentencing in August. Authorities believe the abuse was directed at the 4-year-old but not his siblings.

  According to the report from the Celina Police Department, Smith shot at her son with a Stinger P30 brand pellet gun on numerous occasions from November through January 2. Following a tip, police went to the home to investigate and discovered the boy with welts and bruises to his head, chest, legs, back and buttocks. The injuries were determined to have accumulated over a period of two months.

  Authorities believe some of the injuries may have been directed to the boy as a form of punishment.


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