Grand Lake couple pleads guilty to attempted child abuse of infant
April 21, 2008
A child abuse case involving a 5-week-old baby who suffered multiple broken bones ended with her parents entering guilty pleas last month.
Michael and Nicole Monahan of Grand Lake entered guilty pleas on the charge of attempted child abuse ” negligently causing serious bodily injury, a Class 5 felony.
The couple’s guilty pleas were entered March 12. Judge Mary Hoak of the 14th Judicial District Court set sentencing for both defendants for April 29 in her courtroom.
The entering of the guilty pleas cut short plans for a seven-day jury trial scheduled in the district court from March 25 through April 1. Chief Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham had prepared a list of 12 doctors and radiologists who were prepared to testify about the child’s injuries.
The case against the Monahans was based on an investigation that started Thursday, April 6, 2006. The couple’s 5-week-old daughter Morgan was initially taken that evening to Granby Medical Center for her injuries, but was later transported by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in Denver.
According to the medical report from Children’s Hospital, injuries Morgan suffered included: skull fracture, left side; brain bleed, new blood; fracture, fourth and fifth ribs; femur fracture, left leg; and possible right ankle fracture.
The charges against the Monahans resulted from an investigation by Grand County Sheriff’s Investigator Terry Marchbanks, who was dispatched to the Granby Medical Center on April 6, 2006, on the report of possible child abuse situation.
In his report, Marchbanks said he had interviewed Michael Monahan, who told him his 17-month-old daughter had caused the injuries to the baby.
However, the report says Dr. Andrew Sirotnak of Children’s Hospital Child Protection Team told Marchbanks that Michael had told him he had dropped Morgan when his 17-month-old daughter pulled on the oxygen tube that was needed to help the baby, who was suffering from another medical condition. Dr. Sirotnak, according to the report, said Michael had also claimed a heavy oxygen pulse machine had accidentally fallen on the baby’s head, causing her head injury.
In his report, Marchbanks said Dr. Sirotnak told him there was “no way a 17-month-old child could have caused these injuries and that this was a straight-out case of child abuse.”
In his evaluation of the baby’s injuries, Dr. Sirotnak said Morgan had sustained “not only new injuries, but old healing injuries as well.” Her rib fractures were probably “due to the child’s chest being squeezed too hard.”
He also said the fracture to her femur was “very typical of a baby’s leg being grabbed too hard” which usually “happens when someone is angry during a diaper change” and the “anger is taken out on the baby.”
After the initial investigation in April 2006, the Monahans were arrested and charged and later released on bond. At that time, their two children had been placed in foster homes by Grand County Social Services.