The second of two parents accused of forcing their two children to ride in the back of a U-Haul truck pleaded guilty Tuesday in Rockingham County Circuit Court.
Khalid Lateef Sheffield, 42, of Lynn, Mass., faced nine charges, including two felony counts of child abuse and felony possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.
As part of a plea deal, Sheffield pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and felony drug possession. The remaining charges were dismissed.
Judge Bruce Albertson sentenced him to 10 years in prison, with all but one year suspended, which was agreed to in the plea deal.
His co-defendant, Kathleen M. Duenas, 36, of Huntsville, Ala., pleaded guilty on May 19 to two felony counts of child abuse. A felony possession with the intent to distribute marijuana was dismissed.
As part of a plea deal, Albertson sentenced Duenas to 10 years in prison with all but four months suspended.
On Oct. 8, a motorist reported two "visibly upset children being forced into the back of a U-Haul truck" parked at the Interstate 81 rest area at mile marker 262, near Rockingham County's border with Shenandoah County.
A Virginia State Police trooper arrived at the rest area and found two girls, ages 4 and 11, locked in the back of the truck. The trooper reported the truck had a makeshift bed and some food for the girls.
Sheffield is the father of the 11-year-old and Duenas is the mother of the 4-year-old.
Police found marijuana and various pills during a search of the vehicle.
The U-Haul had been traveling from Alabama, where both children are from, on the way to Massachusetts, police say.
The children were turned over to Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Child Protective Services.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org