Building a protective wall around Brody

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It was a blissful weekend within the Bryant household.

Brody Ray Harrell, my grandson, came for a visit. Brody is a few months shy of celebrating his fourth birthday and it has been an amazing journey watching him grow, physically and mentally, since he first entered the world back in November of 2013.

He’s all-boy….loves trucks, cars, trains and rough-housing. To be as small as he is, Brody is as strong as an ox. He tuckers me out….but then again at age 64, nearly any type of strenuous activity sends me to my recliner to re-charge the old batteries.

And he’s now at the age where questions about everything abound. You can’t simply answer one question; there’s always another question based on whatever answer you give him. That’s a good thing as his young mind is now like a sponge….absorbing all the knowledge he can squeeze into his growing mind.

As I carefully watch him play and have fun – always trying my best for him to dodge any dangerous obstacles – I can’t help not to think of all the horrifying stories I read too often concerning innocent children who are put in harm’s way.

Last week alone, I read three such stories….each sending shivers down my spine as I thought of my sometimes overbearing presence to make sure my grandson is safe.

On Thursday (July 6), a 21-year-old Halifax County woman was arrested after she left her infant and a toddler locked inside a vehicle while she went inside a sweepstakes parlor in Scotland Neck to play games.

The vehicle’s engine was running and the air conditioner was operating. However, to me, that poses several dangers. What if the engine had run of gas and stopped running….there would be no air conditioning at a time where the temperature outside exceeded 90 degrees and the car was left in direct sunlight. Secondly, what if there was some type of malfunction (mechanical or electrical) that sparked a fire?

Or, God forbid, what if an adult happened by, saw the car running with children inside, broke into the vehicle and drove off?

Shaneisha Smith was arrested by the Scotland Neck Police Department and charged with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. The Halifax County Department of Social Services was contacted and are conducting an investigation.

The children are currently in the care of a family member.

Also in Halifax County last week, a 25-year-old Roanoke Rapids man broke into a home, kidnapped a one-year-old child and committed sexual acts on the toddler.

Alexander Ezell was charged with attempted statutory rape and indecent liberties with a minor. Ezell has been on the state sex offender registry since he was age 13.

I would like to suggest punishment in this particular case, but I cannot publically state my feelings since this is a family newspaper.

Those same personal feelings apply to a woman arrested in Lawrenceville, Georgia last Thursday for murdering nearly her entire family.

Isabel Martinez, 33, stands charged with five counts of malice murder, five counts of murder, and six counts of aggravated assault. She allegedly stabbed and killed four of her young children (ages 10, 7, 4 and 2) along with her husband. A fifth child (age 9) survived the brutal attack and remains hospitalized with serious injuries.

While those crimes are grotesque, especially against immediate family members, what makes Ms. Martinez even more of a disgusting human being is what she did in a Gwinnett County, GA courtroom on Friday.

While making her mandatory first appearance in court, she was caught on a TV camera with a big smile on her face while giving a “thumb-up” with both hands.

And then, while the Judge was reading the list of charges against her, Martinez smiled again, shook her head “no” and wagged her finger at him.

I cannot begin to fathom what goes on inside an adult’s mind when they resort to acts of harm or violence against a child. That’s why I keep my grandson within view when he pays a visit…’s a crazy world out there and I’ll do whatever is in my power to keep him safe.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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