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Couple faces charges in infant daughter's injuries

January 16, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A Mercersburg couple whose 3-month-old baby girl sustained critical head injuries last month was being held in Franklin County Prison on $50,000 bond following their arrest Tuesday, Mercersburg Police Chief Larry Thomas said Wednesday.

Injuries to the child were "consistent with abusive head trauma," a physician who treated her at Penn State Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., told Thomas, according to court records in District Justice David Hawbaker's office.

Robin Stake, 24, of 2 E. Seminary St., was charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children, court records said.

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His wife, Pamela Stake, 21, of the same address, also is charged with endangering the welfare of children.

Thomas said he originally charged Pamela Stake with aggravated assault but decided to drop that charge after interviews with the couple in jail Wednesday.

Thomas said the endangering charge will remain because, he alleged, Pamela Stake did not take her child to the hospital until four days after she noticed she wasn't acting normally.

Emergency room personnel at Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital determined that the baby's eyes were deviated, that her right eye looked inward and that she held her right arm up with her palm facing forward. They also noticed a V-shaped sunken area on her forehead. A spinal tap was taken, court records said.

The baby, Gemini Stake, was flown to the hospital in Hershey in critical condition, court records said.

Mark S. Dias, a neurosurgeon at Hershey, said in a statement to Thomas that the baby had a subdural hemorrhage with a bulging soft spot that was under pressure. She also suffered from a retinal hemorrhage, court records said.

Dias said the child's condition was "consistent with abusive head trauma," court records said. He said there was no other reasonable explanation from the parents to account for the injuries.

Dias said the injuries were potentially life threatening and left the child at considerable risk of visual loss, brain damage, seizures, developmental delays and mental retardation, court records said.

The physician also said the delay in seeking medical attention for the baby is another factor to consider, court records said. The child's medical problems began Dec. 11 and she was not taken to the hospital until Dec. 14, court records allege.

Thomas said the child has since been released from the hospital and was turned over to the custody of Franklin County Children and Youth.

Pamela Stake told Thomas her husband was home alone with the child while she was at work, court records said. Robin Stake had fed the baby and was getting her ready for her nap when she started screaming and stiffened up, court records said.

When Pamela Stake came home from work, she told Thomas, the child was crying inconsolably in an unusual manner. She acted strange, was not eating well, was constipated and had not had a bowel movement during the four days.

A preliminary hearing for the Stakes is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 1 p.m. in Central Court in Chambersburg, Pa.

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