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Guilty plea entered in death of toddler

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A Columbus woman has pleaded guilty in connection with the death of her 19-month-old son.

Rachel McCue, 22, accepted a plea bargain Friday, pleading guilty to a charge of Class C felony neglect of a dependent in the Nov. 25, 2012, death of Evan Jack McCue.

The Bartholomew County prosecutor’s office dropped a charge of Class A felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death against Rachel McCue. That charge carried a possible 50-year prison sentence.

McCue now faces two to eight years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000, according to the prosecutor’s office.

She will be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. April 24 by Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann.

Under the agreement, McCue entered a blind plea, meaning there isn’t a predetermined punishment when Heimann decides on her sentence.

The plea came 10 days after the woman’s former boyfriend, Thomas W. Gorski, 31, was sentenced on a charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury in connection with the child’s death.

Formal charges against McCue were filed when she was backing up Gorski’s accounts about the child’s death to investigators, Prosecutor Bill Nash said.

According to the prosecutor, it wasn’t clear to him until late in the investigation — long after formal charges were filed — that McCue neither physically hurt her own son, nor had reason to believe her live-in boyfriend was abusing Evan while she was at work.

“I am firmly convinced that Tom Gorski inflicted the injuries,” Nash said following Friday’s hearing. “His level of guilt is so much higher than hers.”

But that allegation is largely based on witness testimony concerning Gorski’s past behavior that would not have been admissible in court, Nash said.

“I don’t think Gorski intended to kill this child,” Nash said. “I believe he beat the child repeatedly until one time, he hit him a little too hard.”

The Class C felony neglect charge against McCue reflects that while she was legally responsible for Evan’s welfare, she knowingly brought her son to live with a drug dealer, took drugs herself and did not check on the toddler’s welfare for up to 12 hours before Evan was discovered unresponsive, Nash said.

It was Rachel McCue who called 911 when the boy was found unresponsive in the home she shared with Gorski in Candlelight Village Mobile Home Park, according to investigators. Police said Gorski’s Facebook account had numerous postings the night of Nov. 24 into daylight hours of Nov. 25, 2012, suggesting he was trying to sell drugs to customers out of the home while watching the toddler as McCue worked at a fast-food job. When Rachel McCue returned to the home, her son was not breathing and had head injuries.

The toddler was pronounced dead that night at Columbus Regional Hospital.

An autopsy concluded the boy suffered injuries to 17 different areas of his body, including a fracture at the base of his skull, investigators said.

Gorski is serving 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to two Class B felonies, neglect of a dependent and dealing in a narcotic drug.

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