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Titusville woman convicted for caging boy in closet

10:16 AM, Jan 12, 2014   |    comments
Sharon Glass, 49, was convicted Friday of seven felonies, exposing her to up to 120 years in prison. Andrew Ford/FLORIDA TODAY
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After the guilty verdict, Sharon Glass's nattily attired, 90-year-old father left through the back of the courtroom, dodging the pack of reporters waiting in the hallway. For every day of her trial this week, the man had used a walker to gingerly make his way to a space on a hard wooden bench on the fourth-floor of the Viera courthouse.

Glass was convicted Friday of seven felonies, exposing the 49-year-old woman to up to 120 years in prison.

William Reynolds faithfully sat through four days of evidence and testimony. Sometimes her father was accompanied, sometimes he sat alone. Always, he was sharply dressed - a tailored glen plaid suit, an impeccable sport coat, orange socks.

He heard about his daughter and heard about things that happened to her boyfriend's son. Reynolds watched as the 14-year-old boy testified about his time under the care of Glass and his father, Michael Marshall. The boy said he was locked in a closet, locked in a bathroom, zip-tied to the vertical post of a bunk bed and deprived of food. Assistant State Attorney William Scheiner said Glass was aware of what Michael Marshall was doing to the boy.

"Although she didn't physically do it - she's not the muscle, she's the brains - she's still liable for it," Scheiner said.

On the first day of the trial, Reynolds expressed doubt about his daughter's involvement in the abuse.

"She had no knowledge of what he was doing," Reynolds said of Marshall.

Glass was convicted of: aggravated child abuse by torture, neglect of a child, two counts of aggravated child abuse by unlawful caging, and three counts of false imprisonment

During the trial, Glass denied involvement in the abuse.

"I handled my children, (Michael Marshall) handled his," she testified.

The state pressed Glass about her role in the family. Marshall is in jail on similar charges, though no trial is scheduled.

"I never instructed Michael on anything," Glass said.

The defense argued Glass was guilty of neglect for not intervening in what was happening to the boy but wasn't guilty of other crimes because she didn't participate. The state argued she coached Marshall and could be charged as a principal to the crimes - meaning she could be considered equally liable though she didn't commit the act.

At one point, the state called a Titusville detective who interviewed Glass at the scene in 2012. A recording of their conversation was played in which Glass said she had trouble with Marshall's children.

"I said: 'Mike, you've gotta fix your kids and make them listen.' "

While the jury deliberated, defense attorney Paul White said he had to try to get the jury to set aside the graphic nature of the case when considering his client's culpability.

"It was a very emotional case," White said.

Glass's other attorney, Jessica Hicks, said a guilty verdict would "of course" be appealed.

The defense successfully got one of the original eight charges against Glass dismissed before the jury could consider it. They argued that one of the charges - aggravated child abuse by unlawful caging - didn't apply, because zip-ties didn't qualify as a cage. White told FLORIDA TODAY there isn't a lot of case law about the definition of that crime. Hicks pointed out that an appeal could also challenge the way Glass was convicted of both false imprisonment and the caging charge for the same action.

The jury, composed of four middle-aged women and two men, returned to the courtroom after about an hour and a half. A clerk read their verdict - guilty.

Glass was led away by court deputies. Her father was led away by her brother, who is also a court deputy.

The pair of prosecutors took time to chat in front of the crescent of microphones, lenses and lights assembled.

"It's very difficult for (the boy)," Scheiner told them. "It's very difficult for everyone involved, it's very difficult for us as prosecutors to do these kind of things. Our job is to pursue justice, and that's what we did."

The defense team walked past, declining to comment.

Andrew Ford, FLORIDA TODAY

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