Grandmother who dressed as witch to punish child sentenced to prison

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A grandmother who used her alter ego "Nelda the Witch" to terrorize her 7-year-old granddaughter has been sentenced to prison for child abuse.

In September 2014, officers were called to Geneva Robinson's home in southeast Oklahoma City after the woman tried to take her granddaughter to a hospital.

The 7-year-old girl looked to be malnourished and had numerous burns and bruises across her body, according to the police report. The report noted the girl's ankles had cuts around them and were infected. Her wrists had marks "which had the appearance of possibly being bound."

According to a police affidavit, Robinson, 51, told hospital employees that she could not control the girl anymore.

Authorities said the 7-year-old claimed that her grandmother would dress up as a witch and abuse her. The girl told a DHS worker Robinson would wear a green mask, take her to the garage, bind her wrists at night and make her sleep on a pair of pants because "she was in trouble."

The child said the witch's name is Nelda and she would allegedly "take a pink dog leash and hang the victim in the middle of the garage underneath her arms" and tell the girl "the creatures in the attic were going to come get her."

The child said she would be hit with an orange and black whip.

"The evidence at the scene corroborated what she was saying," said MSgt. Gary Knight, with the Oklahoma City Police Department. "There were whips and chains and a witch's hat found there. Just a completely horrible situation for a child to be in."

A disturbing video showed Robinson dressed up as Nelda.

"Oh no! She might take the doggies," a child can be heard screaming.

"I won't hit grandma! I won't be mean!" a child can be heard crying.

The video appears to show that multiple children are in the room. At one point, Robinson can be heard saying "give me a fork and a knife." At another point, a man appears in the video.

"Grandma's sick because of you! Go with the witch," he said.

Earlier this year, Robinson pleaded guilty to multiple counts of felony child abuse for actions including:

  • pulling on the girl with pliers,
  • kicking the girl in the pubic area causing a fracture to her pubic bone,
  • striking the girl in her face causing injury,
  • scratching the girl on the neck causing injury,
  • approaching the girl while she slept and cutting off all of her hair,
  • striking the girl in the head,
  • withholding food to the extent that the girl had to steal food to eat,
  • not seeking medical care for the girl, who was visibly suffering from ringworm,
  • keeping the girl from attending school,
  • forcing the girl to sleep outside with the dogs, and
  • cutting the finger of a 6-year-old with scissors.

"They're innocent children, and they were just tortured," prosecutor Merydith Easter said. "It's heartbreaking to watch them recount what's happened to them."

Robinson was sentenced to serve three consecutive life sentences. She can appeal the decision.

Her attorneys argued Robinson's behavior was the result of an abusive childhood that left her without good parenting skills. She took her son's four children in when they had no place else to go, they said.

"We don't have illusions this is not serious, but we are here for mercy," the attorney said. "Nobody died. This is not a death penalty case."

Still, the judge aruged, in announcing her decision, that because of the abuse, a young girl's innocence and "sparkle" had been taken.

Prosecutors agreed.

"She has scarred them for the rest of their lives," Easter said. "She does not understand the horror she inflicted on [the victim]. Geneva Robinson should never walk free again. She should never have access to children."

Joshua Granger, who told NewsChannel 4 in 2014 that Robinson was innocent and the 7-year-old girl was a "troubled child," has also pleaded guilty to child abuse and child neglect charges.

Prosecutors said he beat the two young children and helped Robinson with her witch persona.

"Anyone who sits back and watches it or helps someone else do that deserves to be there with them," Easter said. "He's the only person who could have protected [the victim] from Geneva Robinson. He didn't do that."

Granger was sentenced to serve life in prison with the first 30 years behind bars, despite arguments from the defense that Granger was tossed into a chaotic family environment and did the best he could to handle children with behavioral issues.

"Did he screw up?" attorneys asked. "Yes, but I don't think that proves a lack of compassion on his part."

In a prepared statement, Granger told the judge he thought the persona would do some good to "scare her into" better behavior.