Plea deal in tot pot-smoking video case

FORT WORTH, TX In a plea deal with prosecutors, Vanswan Polty pleaded guilty to two charges of injury to a child and three unrelated burglary charges before jury selection began in his trial. He had faced from five years to life in prison if convicted of engaging in organized criminal activity. Because he had not been convicted of a felony, he also could have received probation.

"It's a sad case from any angle that you look at it," prosecutor Darrell Davila told The Associated Press. "Now that the case has been resolved, justice has been served and the children can move into a better life."

Polty's attorney Timmie White did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Polty, 20, and a teenage uncle of the children, then 2 and 4, were seen in the video that was found in early 2007 by Watauga police searching a house during a burglary investigation in the Fort Worth suburb. Drug tests performed on the youngsters revealed they had marijuana and cocaine in their systems.

The video shows one of the teens lighting a marijuana cigar in the 2-year-old's mouth, then laughing as the child coughs. One teen then tells him to pass it to his brother, who also smokes it and coughs, as the teens laugh. The youngsters keep smoking, and one teen asks, "You want that candy? You got the munchies?"

The children, now 4 and 6, are being adopted by another family after their mother terminated her parental rights late last year, said Marissa Gonzales, a Child Protective Services spokeswoman. The woman never participated in the CPS requirements such as parenting classes that would have allowed her children to return home after their removal, Gonzales said. The mother has claimed she was asleep in another room at the time and was not charged in the incident.

The toddlers' uncle Demetris McCoy, 18, was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to injury to a child and burglary charges this summer and had agreed to testify against Polty. Davila said he could not comment on the juvenile who videotaped the incident but said his case had been resolved.

Polty was charged with two counts of injury to a child causing bodily injury, a charge with a maximum 10-year prison term, and three counts of burglary of a habitation, a charge with a maximum 20-year prison term. Then about two weeks ago after talking to witnesses again, prosecutors indicted Polty on the charge of engaging in criminal activity to combine the burglary charges and increase the penalty, Davila said.

If Polty had been convicted of that charge, prosecutors would have introduced the video and other evidence of his giving pot to the toddlers, Davila said.

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