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Former airman pleads guilty to child abuse

The former Davis-Monthan airman on trial for allegedly attempting to kill his stepdaughter pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of child abuse.

The plea means he could be sentenced to probation, said David Berkman, chief criminal deputy county attorney in the Pima County Attorney’s office.

He had been charged with attempted first-degree murder.

Berkman said Superior Court Judge Jane Eikleberry issued a directed verdict on Friday, stating that based on the evidence presented, the alleged crimes were “not dangerous in nature.” A jury trial in the case began Wednesday.

Gamble, a weapons loader, was accused of holding the 19-month-old’s head under water for about five seconds in a bathtub and of holding her in the air with one hand around her throat when he got angry after she wouldn’t stop crying.

The child had no permanent injuries from the incidents, a physician testified.

Gamble’s now-estranged wife, Melanie Gamble, the mother of the child, testified against him last week in exchange for a plea of guilty to one count of child abuse. She is to be sentenced Tuesday morning.

Gamble’s defense attorney, Richard Kingston argued that Gamble was a stressed-out, first-time father who didn’t handle frustration well and was inexperienced with young children.

Kingston said the couple, who married when the child was 8 months old, had financial and other problems in their marriage. They are divorcing.

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