Sentence upheld for NC mom who choked toddler daughter

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina appeals court is refusing to reverse a Buncombe County woman’s guilty plea after choking her two-year-old daughter because the judge ordered a $1,000 fine instead of sending her straight to prison.

The state Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Ashley Meredith Zubiena said she understood before sentencing last year she could have gone to prison for more than three years. Zubiena’s punishment for a felony charge of assault by strangulation was a suspended prison term, three years on probation and the unexpected $1,000 fine.

The woman then asked to withdraw her guilty plea, which the judge denied.

The appeals court ruled the relatively modest fine wasn’t a disproportionate penalty compared with the seriousness of her crime.

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