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Emotional Maltreatment Statutes Summary

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My Son, age 9

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BYLINE:    SARAH PROHASKA, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
DATE: May 19, 2005
Palm Beach Post, The (FL)

A Stuart man who prosecutors say instructed his 6-year-old son to "get a knife and kill your mother" was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum penalty possible - 10 years in prison - after a jury last month convicted him of child abuse and solicitation to commit aggravated battery.

Prosecutors had charged Edward Munao, 39, with a more serious count of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, but the jury found him not guilty of that charge. Circuit Judge Gary Sweet, however, was candid Wednesday in his assessment of the case. "It seems to me that Mr. Munao is extremely narcissistic," Sweet said during the sentencing hearing. "I think the evidence is clear that you absolutely abused this child emotionally and mentally."

During the trial, Munao was accused of encouraging the emotionally troubled and impressionable boy to hit, harass and disobey his ex-girlfriend, the boy's mother. Prosecutors alleged he told the boy during a phone call to "go into the kitchen, get a knife and kill your mother."

They played a tape his mother made of a phone call between Munao and the boy on which Munao said: "Do you need me to come over there and kill her for you?"

Munao's attorney Jerome Stone Jr. asked Sweet for a sentence of probation that would keep Munao, who has already served 330 days in jail, out of prison. He said Munao is "a great candidate for rehabilitation."

Afterward, Stone said he was surprised by the 10-year sentence.

"My client obviously is disappointed," he said.

Munao testified during the April trial that he never intended for the boy to actually kill his mother. Munao said the words "get a knife" came out of his mouth in the heat of the moment and out of fear for his son, who he said called him up in a frenzy and crying for help after his mother told him he couldn't watch television.

For a moment, Munao said, he was afraid the boy really needed to defend himself. But he soon realized that wasn't the case, he said. He said the jury only heard bits and pieces of his taped conversation with the boy, and he was actually trying to calm his son down.

The boy's mother, Jodi Walsh, told the judge that Munao has a history of drug use and domestic violence, even though he has never been convicted in court of either. She said the "emotional mind games and manipulation" of the boy began as early as age 3, she said.

"He was teaching our healthy boy to be aggressive," Walsh said. "There is no justice when an innocent child gets scarred for life."

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