The city man charged with a felony after he beat his son with a belt is no longer in danger of a state prison sentence.
Officials said the charges against Lloyd Fisher have been reduced, but he still faces misdemeanor counts of assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Prosecutors officially reduced the charges this week, but regardless of the reduction, Fisher’s attorney, Brian Toal, said he believes that his client is innocent of any crime.
“I’ve done a complete investigation and it was completely legal,” Toal said Friday.
Fisher, 45, is expected to return to court next week.
He was charged last month with beating his 13-year-old son with a belt after the boy was kicked out of school for stealing from teachers, hitting other children and cutting a girl’s hair.
Authorities said Fisher left at least five visible welts on the boy, according to papers filed in court.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said prosecutors reduced the count because the incident didn’t fit the elements of a felony.
The felony charge could only stand if there was serious injury or the belt was used as a deadly weapon. He said he didn’t believe the case met either standard.
A belt could be a deadly weapon, but not how it is alleged to have been used in this case, Carney said.
“Using it to whip somebody is not likely to cause death,” Carney said.
Misdemeanor assault has a lower standard of requirements.
Prosecutors are also still looking at the case, including consideration of Fisher’s history or lack of it.
“The case is going forward; where it ends up is a different issue,” Carney said. “But that’s where it starts.”
The arrest, which became known as the “whupping” case, has sparked debate over proper punishment of children.
The reduction in the Fisher case came as another parent was charged in an unrelated case involving a belt.
Della M. Collier, 36, was charged this week with misdemeanor third-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
She is accused of using a belt to hit her 8-year-old daughter on the arms, back and shoulder area on April 5. The girl had “visible markings of redness, swelling and bruising,” along with pain and discomfort, according to papers filed in court.
The girl was treated by a school nurse the next day, according to court papers.
Asked about the Collier case, Carney said he was not familiar with it. Toal, however, said it’s hard to compare such cases. “They’re all very fact-specific,” he said.
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