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Parents charged in child-abuse case

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The parents of a 6-month-old baby were arrested Thursday in what Columbus Police describe as one of the most disturbing cases of child abuse they have ever encountered.

The infant boy is being treated at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for three head hemorrhages, two broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and a broken leg and arm.

Some of the injuries appear to be consistent with shaken baby syndrome, Columbus Police spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.

“The extent of injuries suffered by such a young child is what we find most disturbing,” Myers said. “The 6-month-old is expected to survive, but the hospital told us it is unclear what, if any, permanent injuries will occur.”

Riley Hospital physician Roberta Hibbard was quoted in a probable-cause affidavit as saying: “The pattern and severity of this child’s injuries are explained only by repeated significant trauma.”

Following nearly a three-week investigation, Leydi Garcia, 18, of 1330 Central Ave., and Pedro Lopez, 25, of 4060 North County Road 150W, were picked up separately on arrest warrants early Thursday afternoon, Myers said. They are being held in the Bartholomew County Jail.

Garcia and Lopez were charged in court with battery resulting in serious bodily

injury to a person less than 14 years of age, and neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injuries, both Class B felonies.

A second child, an 18-month-old girl, showed no sign of injuries, but was nevertheless taken into protective custody, Myers said.

The investigation began with a Jan. 19 request for police assistance in investigating a case of possible child abuse and neglect from the Child Protection Services in Columbus, Myers said.

The request was made after Columbus Regional Hospital reported they were treating a 6-month-old baby boy for internal injuries significant enough to require a transfer to Indianapolis, Myers said.

For the next several days, lead detective Brian Wilder interviewed medical personnel who treated the boy, as well as Garcia and Lopez, Myers said.

“During one of the interviews, Lopez demonstrated with a doll how he would sometime shake (the baby). He held the doll up and shook the doll vigorously forward and backward. While doing so, he shouted ‘shut up, shut up,’” Wilder wrote in his probable-cause affidavit.

During a similar interview, the mother also said she shook the baby while he cried, “causing his head to go back and forth. Garcia acknowledged shaking (the infant) on other occasions as well,” the detective’s affidavit stated.

After Wilder sent his findings to Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash, the probable-cause affidavits were filed Wednesday.

Arrest warrants signed by Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann were issued Thursday, according to court records.

If convicted of both charges, each of the parents could face 12 to 40 years imprisonment, as well as fines of up to $20,000.

Bond for Garcia and Lopez was set at $150,000 each. However, both parents have been ordered to be held indefinitely on immigration charges. Arrest records show Garcia was born in Mexico, while Lopez is a native of Guatemala.

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