(Stillwater) — A Cushing couple who were charged two years ago with enabling the abuse of their 5-month-old daughter pleaded no contest last week to amended charges of child neglect.
    Don F. McGee Jr., 24, and Ellen Lavada Bravo, 35, remain free on personal recognizance bonds pending their sentencing on Oct. 12 before Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler.
    McGee and Bravo were originally charged with leaving their baby “in the care of another,” when they “knew or reasonably should have known that the child would be placed at risk of abuse,” between Oct. 25, 2006, and March 29, 2007.
    In the amended charge filed earlier this month, they were accused of failing to provide appropriate supervision over the baby during that time period with the result that she suffered a soft palate laceration, multiple fractures to both sides of the head, and multiple broken ribs.
    The baby had three skull fractures, five rib fractures, six bruises on her head and an inch-long cut in the back of the roof of her mouth when she was taken by her parents on March 29, 2007, to Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, pediatrician John Stuemky testified at a preliminary hearing two years ago.
    No one was ever identified or charged with actually abusing the baby, who was then living in a household of nearly 10 people from adolescent to grandparent, according to court statements by their defense attorney in 2007.
    Stuemky, professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine and medical director of the child protection team at Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, testified at the preliminary hearing that the child’s injuries were consistent with abuse.
    Stuemky testified that it would have taken three blows to fracture the baby’s skull and that “rib fractures in this age of child are 99 percent associated with physical abuse.” He testified that the “bruises are absolutely consistent with blunt force trauma.”
    Stuemky testified that the baby’s soft palate injury was “not consistent with the child ramming a sucker in the back of her mouth,” which the parents thought might have happened.
    The baby was placed in the custody of the state Department of Human Services, authorities said.
    She does not have neurological damage, according to court testimony.
    The parents have adamantly denied ever hurting their child.
    At the time, the baby’s father was already on probation for possessing marijuana in the presence of an 11-year-old boy in 2003 when McGee was 18, court records show.
    McGee has a plea bargain in the child neglect case for a five-year suspended sentence coupled with a requirement that he complete recommendations in a background report ordered by the judge and requirements in a juvenile case, court records show.
    Bravo has a plea bargain for a five-year deferred sentence for child neglect, along with completing requirements in a background report and a juvenile case, court records show.

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