BROOKSVILLE — A former Hernando County detention deputy accused of severely burning a child with a hair dryer, then failing to seek medical attention, has pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse and child neglect, according to Assistant State Attorney Erin Daly.
Cody Lee Marrone, 21, faces up to 35 years in prison for the abuse charge, a first-degree felony, and neglect charge, a third-degree felony.
Marrone, who was set to stand trial on Monday, instead entered an open plea in court Thursday, allowing the judge to decide his sentence. State guidelines call for 6 1/4 years to 35 years, Daly said. Sentencing is set for Oct. 16.
In the meantime, Hernando Circuit Judge Stephen E. Toner ordered a presentencing investigation that will lead to a recommendation for the judge to review.
Daly said it isn't very common for attorneys to pursue an open plea agreement. In this case, the State Attorney's Office's was seeking significantly more than the minimum sentence because of the nature of the charges.
"It was so heinous and so egregious," she said.
Marrone was fired in January after his arrest. Investigators said the boy, who was 3 years old at the time, suffered second-degree burns to his genitals and other areas of his body and will live with permanent scars. Authorities said Marrone was punishing the boy for now allowing him to sleep.
Marrone joined the Sheriff's Office in July 2012 as a control room operator at the jail. He later became a detention deputy, earning an annual salary of $39,401.44.
He is free on bond pending his sentencing.
Contact Danny Valentine at email@example.com or (352) 848-1432. Follow @HernandoTimes.