(Stillwater, Okla.) – An ex-convict, who was incarcerated for domestic violence in Mayes County, was ordered Monday to stand trial on a Payne County charge of abusing his girlfriend’s six-month-old baby at a Cushing house where he lived with three adults and three children for about three months after getting out of prison.
If convicted of abusing the Cushing baby, who had multiple fractures according to preliminary hearing testimony Monday in Payne County District Court, Clarence Vernon Hawkins, 28, could be given a life prison term.
Hawkins remains jailed on $25,000 bail pending his May 1 trial court arraignment before Payne County Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler.
The baby’s mother, Skye Nicole Guhl, 26, who now lives in Pryor, was ordered Monday to stand trial on a charge of enabling child abuse. Guhl remains free on a personal recognizance bond pending her May 8 trial court arraignment before Payne County District Judge Phillip Corley.
Patrick W. Cummings, 20, who now lives in Tulsa, allowed the couple and Guhl’s three children to live with him and his wife in Cushing. Cummings was also ordered to stand trial on an enabling child abuse charge after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing Monday. He remains free on $25,000 bond pending his June 12 trial court arraignment before Corley.
Cushing Police Officer Rachel Hentges was sent on Sept. 27, 2014, to the 900 block of E. Walnut Street for a welfare check on an infant, according to her preliminary hearing testimony Monday before Special District Judge Katherine Thomas, who ordered the three to stand trial.
The baby, who was in a car seat on the living room floor, “had bruising on his head, blood in the corner of his eyes, a very bad cough, and was dirty,” according to testimony of Hentges, who worked for the state Department of Human Services Child Protective Services for nearly four years before becoming a Cushing police officer about five years ago.
She asked the mother to take the baby to the emergency room at Hillcrest Hospital in Cushing, the officer testified.
When Hawkins was told at the hospital that x-rays would be done on the baby, “He told me ‘this was f…… stupid,” the officer testified.
At the emergency room, “I was informed there were multiple fractures – they were abusive or non-accidental,” the officer testified.
Hawkins denied any knowledge, but “expressed to me he became very frustrated when (the baby) would cry,” the officer testified.
Two days later, Hawkins was arrested by Cushing Police Sgt. Adam Harp on outstanding traffic warrants from Rogers County, she said. Cummings testified against Hawkins Monday in return for the prosecution not asking that he be jailed on his enabling child abuse charge, he said.
On cross-examination, Cummings said he was told by prosecutor Debra Vincent “If I testify, she’ll get it dropped or I take some classes.”
Cummings lived in Drumright before moving to Cushing and met Hawkins through his uncle. “We became buddies – I was 17. I let him move in with me. I got him a job with me out there,” building storm shelters at a business located between Cushing and Drumright.
“Skye and her three children came to live with us before he moved in. Hawkins was not the baby’s father,” Cummings testified.
Cummings described three incidents in which he heard a loud thud followed by the baby crying while he and Hawkins were in the house.
On another occasion, Hawkins “held him (the baby) up by his legs and he shook him,” Cummings testified.
Another time when the baby was on the couch, “Mr. Hawkins threw a marble or something at him – the baby cried. I picked him up and he calmed down,” Cummings testified.
On another occasion, “I walked in and I saw him (Hawkins) throw him (the baby) in the corner of the couch. He landed on the arm. He screamed and I picked him up to calm him down,” Cummings testified.
Cummings admitted, “I threw a bottle at the baby on his right shoulder.” When the baby cried, “I picked him up and calmed him down,” he testified.
Cummings expressed fear of Hawkins. “He gets real mad, real easy. He’s a pretty big guy and I’m not that big,” Cummings testified.
On cross-examination from defense attorney Sarah Kennedy, Cummings said he has some memory issues: “I have a learning disability. I can’t read or write.”
Cummings testified that he and Hawkins had both smoked marijuana around the baby.
In seeking to have the case against Hawkins dismissed, his attorney unsuccessfully argued to the judge, Cummings is “trying to cut a deal that requires him to testify or he goes to jail. He can’t tell you even a month when the allegations occurred.”
But the prosecutor countered that Cummings “was consistent about the actions he observed,” before the judge ruled that Hawkins would be held for trial.
Cummings’ wife, Jessica Heintz Cummings, testified that the couple lived on Walnut Street in Cushing from June to December 2014.
Hawkins moved in during July and “by the end of August, I asked him to move out,” she testified.
“He started acting really crazy – he destroyed one of the windows in the bedroom,” Jessica Cummings testified – adding that she let Hawkins come back because his girlfriend, Guhl, “kept asking me to let him come back.”
In her testimony, Jessica Cummings described Hawkins as “very mean, emotionally abusive to Skye (Guhl) – he used words against the baby, called him names.”
She testified that Guhl “did write me a note that he (Hawkins) was being mean to the baby. I took the baby to a doctor at the Utica Park Clinic in Cushing because she (the baby’s mother) was at work and I was the only one with a vehicle.”
On cross-examination from Guhl’s attorney, Jodie Gage, Jessica Cummings testified that in Pryor Hawkins “threw a needle with meth under a car – so that night we offered to let him stay with us so he could get off drugs.”
DHS child protective services worker Denise Armstrong testified in Guhl’s preliminary hearing Monday that Guhl “stated had she known DHS was coming to the hospital, she wouldn’t have come to the hospital – she said she left Mayes County because of DHS.”
About the baby’s condition, “She said she thought he rolled off the couch onto the floor. DHS obtained emergency custody of the children. In my opinion, she did not seem concerned,” about her baby, the child protective services worker testified Monday.
When the emergency room doctor at the Cushing hospital told Guhl that her baby had numerous bone fractures, “she had very little reaction,” the Cushing police officer testified in her preliminary hearing Monday.
“The child was taken by ambulance to another hospital. She made no effort to tell him good-by, didn’t cry,” the officer testified.
When the officer talked to the baby’s mother on Oct. 17, 2014, in a audio and video-recorded interview, “She told me he (Hawkins) was mean and aggressive toward the baby, would call him names,” the officer testified.
The baby’s mother described an event when the baby was crying: “Mr. Hawkins picked him up with one hand and body-slammed him into the playpen,” the officer testified.
She said that some time later when she would pick up her baby, “he whimpered,” but she didn’t take him to a doctor until about nine days later when he was taken to the Cushing emergency room.
She described another event that occurred in the morning when the baby was crying: “Mr. Hawkins had taken a pillow over his whole body to muffle his cries,” the officer testified Guhl told her.
The baby’s mother did say “she was scared of Clarence Hawkins and his family,” the officer testified.
In arguing that the baby’s mother should be ordered to stand trial on an enabling child abuse charge, the prosecutor told the judge “She had knowledge someone she allowed around her child had abused him.”