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Jury finds Beagley guilty of child abuse in hot sauce case (UPDATED)

Update, 8:20 p.m.: We have posted a longer, updated story on our homepage.

Jessica Beagley in court today after the jury found her guilty. (Marc Lester photo/Anchorage Daily News)Jessica Beagley in court today after the jury found her guilty. (Marc Lester photo/Anchorage Daily News)

From Casey Grove and Kyle Hopkins:

An Anchorage jury today found Jessica Beagley, 36, guilty of one misdemeanor count of child abuse.

Beagley made national headlines after an appearance on the "Dr. Phil" show that featured footage of the Anchorage mom disciplining her adopted son by forcing him to take cold showers and putting hot sauce in his mouth.

The case went to the jury of three men and three women shortly after noon Monday. The jury delivered a verdict around 1 p.m.

Beagley stood as the verdict was read, then quickly walked out of the courtroom with her husband Gary, an Anchorage police officer.

The couple did not respond to questions from reporters as they hurried to a stairwell.

The verdict was a just one, said prosecutor Cynthia Franklin. "(The jury) followed the law and they concluded that it is child abuse to hurt your child as an audition for a television show."

The Beagleys adopted the boy, and his twin brother, from Russia in 2008. They were 5 years old at the time. Tales of mistreatment of adopted children by American parents are closely watched in Russia, but Beagley's defense lawyer William Ingaldson said today he had no idea if authorities in that country will try to gain custody of the boys.

"I hope that's not the case. This is a very good, loving family, and of course we don't hear that in the trial," Ingaldson said.

The charge is punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and up to one year in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Monday, Ingaldson said.

"The way the law is written ... makes it really difficult for a parent to discipline your kids and not be subject to other people's subjective ideas of what is right or wrong," the defense lawyer said.

Here's how the show promoted the episode that led to charges against Beagley:

"Without a doubt, if (Beagley) hadn't gone on 'Dr. Phil,' this never would've happened and there wouldn't be charges," Ingaldson said.

After the show, the clips gained an even larger audience online. Viewers began debating Beagley's unorthodox punishment long before a jury was asked to decide if she committed a crime.

"It was difficult because a piece of my evidence was on the Internet," said Franklin, the prosecutor. "And when part, but not all, of your case is on the Internet, and everyone thinks they know what it's all about."

Related coverage:

-- 'Dr. Phil' appearance nets abuse charges.

-- In 'hot sauce mom' case, Dr. Phil didn't help. (Julia O'Malley column)

-- Watch the 'Dr. Phil' show video.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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