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Deliberations set to begin in child abuse case

LISBON — A Common Pleas Court jury plans to begin deliberations this morning in the case of Thomas C. Browning III, an East Liverpool man facing two charges for allegedly abusing his girlfriend’s toddler son between Christmas of 2019 and March 11, 2020.

The jury heard a week of testimony in the case during the course of the week, which wrapped up with closing arguments late Friday afternoon.

Browning is charged with felonious assault and endangering children, both second-degree felonies.

Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones reminded the jurors about the “voiceless” 2-year-old child and how many injuries he began having over the timeframe in question, including right after the child’s mother, Michaele Thorne, had left him in the care of her boyfriend, Browning. The injuries included a black eye and various bruises, which Jones described as showing a pattern of intensifying.

Jones also pointed to the testimony of medical professionals, who had told them the injuries were not consistent with the accidents being used to explain them. She spoke of Browning’s explanations he gave to Thorne when she started questioning her son’s injuries and how he reacted when Thorne left him in March, when she had her son hospitalized again.

Defense attorney Joseph King questioned the child’s mother’s behavior, bringing up that the hospital checked the child to see if he was having any withdrawals at the time he was born, something Jones said they found no evidence of after investigating. King further questioned why the mother waited to seek more help for him when he was acquiring these injuries. He told jurors to question whether it could have been someone else, implying the child was around other people including his mother, daycare or family.

King suggested the investigators and prosecutor’s office honed in on Browning and rushed to judgment, not investigating the matter further.

Additionally, King questioned how Browning could have picked up his girlfriend’s child and sought medical care for him, something Jones seemed to be expecting him to do.

Thorne, 31, Olive Street, Salem, pleaded guilty on June 4 to an endangering children, third-degree felony, for allowing her son to be abused. While King tried to suggest she had made a deal and would be getting a favor in exchange for testifying against Browning during this week’s trial, Jones said Thorne pleaded guilty to the charge as filed and she has indicated a request for a prison sentence.

“Michaele has stepped up and taken responsibility for her shortcomings as a mother,” Jones said. “She came in here to tell you folks about what had happened because she wants justice for her son.”

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