A Casper man who severely injured a 3-year-old boy will likely spend five-to-eight years in prison.

Zachary Alan Taylor pleaded guilty to child abuse in Natrona County District Court Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors dropped an additional aggravated child abuse charge in exchange for the plea.

The deal also stipulates that prosecutors will ask for a 5- to 8-year prison sentence, but District Court Judge Kerri M. Johnson doesn't necessarily have to agree to the deal.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, a Wyoming Department of Family Services investigator called Casper police on Sept. 3 and reported a 3-year-old boy had bruises all over his body. The affidavit says the mother told investigators that she and Taylor didn't know what had happened, and based on what Taylor told her, dark shadows caused the child's bruises.

The child's mother said that she'd noticed bruises on the child over the past few months, but they were getting worse.

Taylor duped the victim's mother into believing evil spirits caused the bruising, according to court documents.

According to the affidavit, the detective asked Taylor how he felt about manipulating the victim's mother into believing there were "malevolent spirits" harming her child.

Taylor allegedly replied, "I took advantage of it."

When Taylor spoke to police, he described his approach to disciplining the children as an "escalating pattern of corporal punishment" rising to abuse over the previous weeks. In one incident, the victim was crying, so Taylor covered his mouth with his hands and grabbed the 3-year-old's neck and shook him, the affidavit states.

Taylor also admitted to biting the victim's arm.

A doctor saw the victim and told police that the child had a skull fracture.

A sentencing date in the case has not yet been set.

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