Plea Deal: Probation for Mills Woman Who Severely Injured Infant
Appearing in Natrona County District Court, a Mills woman admitted to actions that left a 10-month-old with two skull fractures, but she denied that her actions were intentional.
Donna Lea Gatlin pleaded guilty to child abuse Thursday afternoon. Gatlin entered an Alford plea, a type of deal where the accused acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence for a conviction before a jury, but does not concede that she committed the alleged crime.
Under a proposed plea agreement, Gatlin would serve three years of supervised probation with the requirement that she complete the felony program at the Casper Re-entry Center. Should she violate her probation, she could spend seven to 10 years behind bars.
District Court Judge Catherine Wilking does not have to go along with the proposed agreement.
Gatlin was initially charged with aggravated child abuse, but the charges were downgraded during Thursday's hearing.
According to court records, a 10-month-old was treated at Wyoming Medical Center for skull fractures. The child's parents advised that a babysitter — Gatlin — caused the injuries. The child was later transported to Denver Children's Hospital due to the severity of its injuries.
Gatlin told Mills police that she picked the baby up and may have hit its head on the back of her wooden kitchen chair, but she did not intend to cause any harm.
During Thursday's hearing, Assistant Natrona County District Attorney Kevin Taheri said he is going along with the agreement because the victim's family wanted to see Gatlin convicted, but did not want her to spend time in prison. Taheri said no one could say for sure that Gatlin acted maliciously.
Taheri said Gatlin has shown no ill will toward the child, at one point establishing a college fund.
The victim's family was also present in court Thursday. Taheri said they approved of the plea agreement.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.