PARKERSBURG - A Parkersburg man pleaded guilty Thursday to the death of a child and agreed to a 30-year sentence.
Matthew Lamp, 30, pleaded guilty to the death of a child by a parent or guardian in Wood County Circuit Court. The boy died several days after being struck in the head by Lamp and hitting a counter.
Prosecutors and Lamp's defense attorney Jay Gerber, agreed to a 30-year sentence, but it's a non-binding agreement. Wood County Circuit Court Judge Bob Waters can sentence Lamp to the 40-year maximum. The statute allows for a sentence of 10-40 years. Lamp must serve at least 10 years before he is eligible for parole.
Matthew Lamp signs his plea agreement alongside his attorney Jay Gerber in Wood County Circuit Court Thursday. Lamp agreed to plead guilty to the death of a child by a parent or guardian. (Photo by Jody Murphy)
Before accepting the plea, Waters asked Lamp to describe his actions that led to the boy's death.
"I punched the little boy in the head," Lamp said. "He fell asleep ... ... And didn't wake up."
Lamp, under questioning from the judge, stated he struck the toddler on the side of the head with his fist. The blow caused the front of the boy's head to strike a counter. Lamp said boy fell asleep "a few minutes" after the incident.
He never woke up.
The incident occurred at the home of the boy's mother Natisha Dawn Stephens Kays on Sept. 30. The child died three days later at a Morgantown hospital.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Sean Francisco said members of the family had been contacted "intermittently" during the course of the proceedings regarding the plea.
No members of the family - either Lamp's or the dead child's - were present in court.
Following Waters, Francisco questioned Lamp about Kays' actions following the child's injury. Lamp had been dating and living with Kays for five or six months prior to the incident. Lamp said Kays was working at a fast food restaurant when the incident occurred. He said she got home about an hour after the incident occurred and he told her about boy's injury.
"No medical treatment was sought until the next day," Francisco asked.
"No," Lamp replied.
Francisco asked if Lamp and Kays debated seeking medical treatment for the toddler. Lamp said Kays did not want child protective services involved.
"She was worried the other kids would be taken away," he stated. In addition to the 3-year-old, a 5-year-old and 2-year-old were also living in the house.
"There was no effort made to assist the child in any way," Francisco asked.
"No," Lamp said.
Kays has not yet been charged with any crime related to the incident.
Lamp also told the court he grabbed the toddler by his mouth, causing injuries to his cheeks, "because he wouldn't shut up."
Waters asked Lamp about other injuries to the boy's body.
"You were throwing him up in the air and catching him," Waters asked.
Lamp claimed it was play.
"You don't usually receive injuries like that during play," Waters said. Lamp again maintained he was playing with the child.
Waters accepted the plea and continued the hearing until 9 a.m. Jan. 6. He was remanded to custody.
Before adjourning Gerber requested Lamp be transferred to the another facility. Gerber said his client has been subjected to death threats since his incarceration at the North Central Regional Jail and has been in protective custody. Lamp has been incarcerated at the jail since his arrest in October 2012.