Plea offer accepted in Joplin child abuse case

A 19-year-old Joplin man pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge in a felony child abuse case involving a 2-month-old baby brought to Freeman Hospital West with bite marks on his legs and respiratory difficulties.

Thaddeus M. Garrison pleaded guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court to first-degree child endangerment in a plea agreement with the prosecutor’s office. Garrison had been facing two felony counts of child abuse. His plea deal would dismiss the second count and limit the prison time he might receive to no more than five years.

Circuit Judge David Dally delayed formal acceptance or rejection of the plea agreement and set a sentencing date of Oct. 19.

Police were called to the hospital Oct. 15 of last year regarding injuries to the baby of Garrison’s girlfriend, Sarah Hasting, 19, that doctors believed were consistent with child abuse. An investigation determined that the injuries were sustained while the infant had been left in the care of the defendant.

A probable-cause affidavit stated that the defendant bit the baby three times with enough force to break the skin and leave bite marks still visible six hours later. In addition to the bites, Garrison was believed to have inflicted injury sufficient to cause the child to stop breathing. The baby was transferred from the Joplin hospital to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City because of the cessation of breathing that he had suffered.

Garrison reportedly did not seek medical attention for the baby until the mother returned home.