Photo: Randall E. King
The biological father of a 5-month-old baby suspected of being a victim of child abuse appeared in Baxter County Circuit Court earlier this month.
Thirty-six-year-old Randall E. King of rural Mountain Home entered a no contest plea to charges of endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree.
He was placed on four years probation.
The mother of the child, 35-year-old Desiree Marie Daniels, is due to appear in circuit court on Jan. 14.
The two children in the family, the victim and his older sister, were in foster care as late as last month. The Office of Child Support Enforcement has brought suit against Daniels seeking support for the children.
Deputy Prosecutor Kerry Chism told the court “there is no doubt someone was very careless with the child,” but that the state was not in a position to prove elements in the case necessary to justify a more harsh penalty.
The parents told investigators King had dropped the infant when he tripped on some junk while going out the back door of the couple’s residence along County Road 420.
He was reported to have grabbed the baby by the shirt, but the little boy hit a cooler.
Circuit Judge John Putman was hesitant to accept King’s plea. When the case was first called, he said he would hold the matter until later. “I understand this is a borderline provable case, but I still want to think about this.”
When the case came up again, Judge Putman accepted the no contest plea and the sentence of 48 months probation.
On May 1, the baby was brought to Baxter Regional Medical Center after he reportedly began having seizures. He was then airlifted to Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Little Rock.
Doctors at ACH determined the infant had multiple injuries, and it was believed the baby had suffered two separate traumatic events.
According to the probable cause affidavit, the parents had not immediately taken the baby to a doctor or a hospital for what turned out to be broken ribs.
They did not bring him to BRMC, until he began having seizures.
The baby was treated at ACH for 10 days before being released into the custody of his paternal grandmother.
Dr. Liza Murray at ACH reported, in her opinion, the parents’ explanations were inconsistent with the baby’s injuries.
She said the rib injuries appeared to have been caused by “squeezing or crushing,” and the head injury was consistent with what is termed “Shaken Baby Syndrome.”
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