North Logan man accepts plea deal in child abuse case

Merritt Smith, 31, formally charged with child abuse, a second-degree felony and retaliation against a witness, a third degree felony.

LOGAN — A 31-year-old North Logan man accused of abusing a seven-year-old child, has waived his right to a preliminary hearing and pleaded guilty reduced charges.

Merritt Smith appeared in 1st District Court Tuesday morning.

Smith was originally charged with child abuse, a second-degree felony and retaliation against a witness, a third-degree felony. Under the plea agreement both felonies were reduced to class A misdemeanors.

Smith pleaded guilty to the child abuse charge. Smith’s attorney said they disputed the evidence of the retaliation charge and instead entered a plea of no contest.

Smith along with his twin brother Quinton James Smith, 31, Cindy Bullock, 33, and Bonnie Third, 54, are accused of spanking the child in a type of ritual called the “whipping tunnel.” In this type of punishment, the child was forced to crawl underneath the adults as they stood above him and spanked him with their hand or an object.

Prosecutors also said, after the child reported the spanking to a school teacher, Smith placed him in a room without his toys and stuffed animals. He was kept from having contact with other people for an extended period of time.

The child was latter taken and placed under the care of Child and Family Services.

Smith will be sentenced September 15 and faces up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine for each charge.

Preliminary hearings for Bullock, Third and Quinton Smith will be held in August.

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