WISE — Juwan Moore will serve life in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to capital murder in the 2012 death of a 2-year-old girl in Wise County.
Moore, 33, was charged along with the mother of 2-year-old Emma Baldwin after the toddler succumbed to severe injuries, the apparent result of a beating, in a Knoxville medical center after being transferred there from Norton Community Hospital.
Moore and the girl’s mother, Brandie Baldwin, were taken into custody in Knoxville on unrelated probation violation warrants at the time of the girl’s death and transported back to Virginia, where they were subsequently indicted on murder charges and have been awaiting trial.
On Thursday, Moore accepted a plea agreement before Wise County Circuit Court Judge Chad Dotson. Moore pleaded guilty to one count of capital murder and two counts of felony child abuse. Dotson sentenced Moore to life in prison plus 10 years.
“You don’t get parole for capital murder in Virginia, so he will spend the rest of his life in prison,” Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ron Elkins said following Thursday’s plea hearing.
“The judge asked (Moore) several times if he understood the charges, understood the facts of the case, understood the plea agreement and that he was entering his plea voluntarily,” Elkins said. “I think justice was served. We met with the victim’s family and their wishes was for life in prison. When you weigh the facts and evidence in the case, and the fact (Moore is not) even middle age yet, I feel like it’s a good punishment.”
The death penalty was a potential sentence in Moore’s case, but Elkins said the victim’s family was satisfied with life behind bars for the man who caused Emma’s death.
“I think justice was served. I watched a man die in the electric chair last year and it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be,” Elkins said. “Sometimes death is appropriate and sometimes not. I am happy with the outcome on this case and I hope it gives some peace to Emma’s family.”
Brandie Baldwin’s case is still set for April. Facing a felony murder charge, the girl’s mother had been out of jail on bond awaiting trial but was recently placed back into the regional jail system for violating provisions of her bond release as a result of drug charges.