McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

May 14, 2013

Baby on life support; man and woman charged

By Rachel Petersen
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A 2-month-old child is currently on life support and a McAlester man and woman have been charged in connection to the baby’s injuries.

Nathan Lee Edwards, 22, was charged May 13 in Pittsburg County District Court with one felony count of engaging in child abuse by injury and one felony count of enabling child abuse by injury.

Cassie Ragan, 26, was charged with two felony counts of enabling child abuse by injury.

Elayna Maree Daniels, born Feb. 14, 2013, is the infant daughter of Ragan. Edwards is Ragan’s boyfriend, according to court records.

“Even if the child survives,” said Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns, “she will have permanent medical problems related to the injuries sustained under the care of the man and woman who have been arrested in the case.”

Edwards and Ragan were arrested May 6 and are being held in lieu of $250,000 bonds.

Kerns said his office has requested the assistance of the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation. Kerns said the baby suffered from “head and trunk blunt force trauma.” The sheriff also said the child has multiple broken bones in various stages of healing.

The baby is in critical condition, Kerns said. “We’ve been in contact with the doctor daily and (the doctor) still isn’t sure if the child will survive.”

On Tuesday, Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Bedford said the child remains on life support and, if she survives, she will have no quality of life. Bedford said since the baby is now in the custody of the state of Oklahoma, there will be a court hearing to determine when to take the child off life support. “From my understanding, (the child) won’t ever be able to survive without life support,” Bedford said.

According to court records, Pittsburg County Deputy Tommy Lyons responded to a call May 5 regarding an unconscious infant brought to the emergency room via ambulance. The baby had bruising on the head, arm and shoulder and was transported via medical aircraft to Tulsa, a police affidavit states.

Edwards allegedly slapped the baby on the top of her head, picked the baby up by one arm, shook the baby, slapped the baby on the back and threatened the baby when she was “crying or fussy,” the affidavit states.

Ragan allegedly saw this all occur and did nothing to stop the alleged abuse, the affidavit states.

If convicted, both Ragan and Edwards are facing life imprisonment. They are both currently in custody and unavailable for comment. According to court records, they had not yet retained the services of attorneys by presstime. They are both due back in court May 24 at 9 a.m. for a preliminary hearing conference.



Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

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